Archive for Volunteering

My New Site & Life Coaching Offerings

Hello Smart Girls!

I’m so excited to show you what I’ve been up to for the past few months! Some of you know that a year ago, I began training with the fabulous Martha Beck to become a life coach so I could take my work with teen girls and young women to a whole new level. Today, almost one year to the day from when my training began, I’m happy to announce that I’m a certified Martha Beck Life Coach and I’ve just launched a new website and a bunch of special life coaching packages just for teens!

I’ve also written a brand new ebook, What Smart Girls Know: 10 Truths to Discovering You, which I’m offering for FREE to people who sign up for my new newsletter over at This book is a passion project I’ve had in my mind for years, but never published with a traditional publisher. I’m thrilled to be able to make it available to you now…gotta love technology!

Oh, and if you’re interested in life coaching, here some of the one-on-one coaching offerings I’ve put together specifically for teens and 20-somethings. You can get all the details on my new Coaching Page:


In a world where teens are bombarded with mixed, and often harmful, media messages, face ongoing pressure to be a “perfect good girl,” and are stuck somewhere between their big dreams and their current reality, it can be challenging to figure out what sparks their passion, let alone where they want it to take them in their lives. This eight-session one-on-one coaching program is aimed helping girls tune into what makes them uniquely them, identify their values and passions, understand the limiting beliefs that get in their way, and build a personal toolbox for moving forward in life in an authentic, purposeful, and powerful way. For motivated teen girls ages 13 – 19.


Today’s overscheduled, overprogrammed teens are dealing with unprecedented stress levels in their quest to be and do it all. This six-week one-on-one coaching program offers motivated teen girls ages 13-19 simple strategies for juggling it all, managing their stress, and creating more balance in their lives.


Today’s teens are big dreamers, and as a collective, they’ve been told their whole life that they can do and be anything they can imagine. But many are missing the concrete strategies and skills they need to shift from imagine to action. This six-week one-on-one coaching program helps motivated teen girls ages 13-19 working toward a specific goal or goals imagine the possibilities, tackle fear and procrastination, create a foolproof plan of action, and set achievable goals.


For the busy teen juggling schoolwork, extracurriculars, and other obligations, a little organization can go a long way. This six-week one-on-one coaching program helps teens ages 13-19 understand the benefits of organizing all different aspects of their lives and give them solid organizational strategies and tools that will help them prioritize, save time, reduce the chaos in their life, and ultimately create a less-stressed life!


Senior year of high school is an exciting, interesting, and often challenging time as big transitions are looming and teens find themselves at the intersection of their familiar high school existence and the unknown of what comes next. This six-week one-on-one coaching program helps motivated, college-bound high school senior girls hone in on their personal values, discover their voice, learn how to tackle fear, and create a strong foundation for personal self-care.


Project You is a twelve-week coaching program for 20-somethings who are feeling stuck, trapped, and limited by their current reality. This intensive program helps 20-somethings hone in on their limiting beliefs, rewrite their personal story, reconnect with their purpose, imagine their ideal outcome, and gain the strategies and tools they need to make it happen.

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With the start of my new site, I’ve also launched a new blog which will feature less newsy news and more insight and reflections for young women. Therefore, I won’t be updating Smart Girls Know any longer. I will, however, keep this site up so you’ll continue to have access to the past 4 years worth of content, interviews, book reviews, affirmations, and more. Thanks so much for being a part of the Smart Girls Know community, and I hope you’ll join me over at!

XOXO Debbie

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MTV’s A Thin Line Campaign Looking for Teen Ambassadors

A little more than a year ago, MTV launched its “A Thin Line” campaign – an initiative aimed at stopping the spread of abuse in the form of sexting, cyberbullying and digital dating abuse. The campaign hopes to empower America’s youth to identify, respond to and stop the spread of the various forms of digital harassment.

A Thin Line is built on the understanding that there’s a “thin line” between what may begin as a harmless joke and something that could end up having a serious impact. MTV hopes to spark a conversation and deliver information that helps young people everywhere draw their own digital line.

To move this mission forward, MTV is looking for young people between the ages of 14 and 29 with experience in social media to be members of its A Thin Line Street Team, otherwise known as campaign ambassadors. Here are the kinds of things A Thin Line Street Team members will do:

  • Help drive conversations about the impact of digital abuse in the lives of young people on the campaign’s various social media outlets, including the website, Facebook and more.
  • Spread the word about the campaign among schools and communities to help people feel empowered to recognize and address digital abuse.
  • Provide input to the A Thin Line to ensure the campaign is reaching the audience in the best way possible.

Interested? Here’s what you need to do: send answers to the following questions (no more than 500 words total) with the subject line “Street Team” to . MTV will contact you by phone or email to let you know if you have been selected.

  • How old are you?
  • What grade / year of college are you in?
  • Where are you from?
  • What is your gender?
  • Why do you want to be a Street Teamer?
  • What would make you a great Street Teamer?  Have you done any work related to digital abuse? If so, have you worked with any other organizations?
  • What ideas do you have to extend the reach of A THIN LINE and make it more effective?
  • What is your email address and phone number?

Good luck!

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There is Life Beyond Eating Disorders

lifebeyond1 If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, please check out my friend and fellow member of the Confidence Community (TM) Johanna Kandel’s new book, which just came out today.

Johanna struggled with her eating disorder for ten years before finally getting help. She founded the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness in 2000 to do community outreach, education, awareness, and prevention of various eating disorders, to share the message that recovery from these disorders is possible, and make sure that those suffering from eating disorders don’t have to recover alone.

In her powerful new book, Johanna offers tools and insight for those with eating disorders so they can:

  • Stop self-sabotage and sidestep triggers
  • Quiet the eating-disordered voice
  • Strengthen the healthy, positive voice
  • Let go of all-or-nothing thinking
  • Overcome fear and embrace change
  • Stay motivated and keep moving forward

Complete with inspiring true stories from others who have won their personal battles with eating disorders, this book provides the help you need to break free from your eating disorder and discover how wonderful life really can be.

Congratulations to Johanna on bringing this very important book into the world!

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MTV Wants You to Volunteer

All For GoodI’m a self-professed volunteer addict, so I was excited to hear that MTV has just joined forces with Huffington Post, Google, Craigslist, YouTube, FanFeedr, and UCLA to create a search engine that will allow people to search for volunteer opportunities to participate in.

The initiative, called All For Good, came about as a result of President Obama’s call for Americans to find ways to do good and volunteer for the organization of their choice.

For its part, MTV just launched, a site that brings volunteer opportunities directly to young people. The network is airing a series of on-air PSAs in the hopes of getting viewers to the site and encouraging them to find a way to give back to the community and lend their time to make a difference. MTV will also be creating a series of viral Web videos, featuring celebrities and artists sharing their experiences in volunteerism and discussing the benefits of integrating civil service into their lifestyle.

I love it!

Let me know if you use the site to pinpoint a volunteer opportunity near you!

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The New Rock Stars of Social Change

Do Something AwardsThis week, teen social change organization Do Something honored five incredible social change agents as winners as their Do Something Awards. The awards recognize the difference these young people are making in the world, and gives each winner $10,000 to go towards the cause of their choice.

Each of the winners began their social change initiatives as teenagers, proving Do Something’s belief (and that of Smart Girls Know) that teenagers have the power to make a difference. Here is a quick look at the winners…I hope they inspire you the way they have me!

  • Marvelyn Brown, age 24: The Marvelous Connections Tour – an activism tour about HIV/AIDS prevention and education. Marvelyn’s tour has resulted in more than 200,000 people getting tested for HIV.
  • David Burstein, age 20: 18 in ’08 – a film and peer-to-peer effort to get 18 year olds to register to vote. This youth-run initiative contributed to the highest registration of 18-22 year old voters in history.
  • Maggie Doyne, age 22: Kopila Valley Children’s Home – a children’s home for the most innocent victims of a decade-long civil war in Nepal. Maggie used her life-savings to buy the land and build the home following a graduation trip to Asia.
  • Eric Glustrom, age 24: Educate! – a program that empowers the next generation of socially responsible leaders through scholarships, funding, leadership seminars, mentorships and more. Eric was inspired after a trip to film a documentary in Uganda at the age of 17.
  • Darius Weems, age 19: Darius Goes West – a documentary Darius made about the realities of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which has raised more than $1.6 million for research to find a cure.

Congratulations to all the winners! And to find out more, including how you apply for one of Do Something’s weekly $500 seed grants, visit the Do Something website.

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As Economy Shrinks, Teen Volunteerism Grows

teen volunteerismWhat do teens do when economic times get tough? According to a new study by World Vision, they roll up their sleeves and step up to help out.

The new survey found that nearly 7 out of 10 parents say the current economic climate has made their teens “more aware of the needs of others.” More than half the parents surveyed said their teens actively support charities.

Another interesting finding of the survey is that when it comes to volunteering, teens are more likely to give their time than adults are. I love that today’s generation of teens are so cued in to the fact that every person can make a difference!

According to an article on the teen activism site Do Something, some people feel the increase in teen volunteerism is a direct result of the election of President Obama, who has stressed the importance of service. The Do Something article also mentions volunteer-based organization Habitat for Humanity International and quotes director of volunteer engagement Alynn Woodson about a renewed level of teen volunteer enthusiasm:

I’ve worked at Habitat for about eight years now. Over that time it’s been great to see the increase in youth volunteering. But throughout that time, I’ve never seen it be quite so energetic as I’m seeing now. Students are feeling very energized by this new president encouraging them to go out and serve.

I’m a self-confessed volunteer junkie…ever since I was ten and used to volunteer at the nursing home down the street in the summers and after school, volunteerism has been a part of how I live. As the recession continues, I’m concerned about the future of so many nonprofits and social organizations that rely on donations from foundations and individuals to keep their programs running. Hopefully this surge in volunteerism will help to balance things out!

What about you? Do you volunteer in your community? And if so, are you volunteering more or less since the recession began?

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You Must Know About: City Year

City YearOne of my goals for Smart Girls Know is to highlight important organizations working with or for teens to create change. There’s no better example than City Year, an organization which brings together young people for a year of full-time service, giving them the skills and opportunities to change the world. Youth corps members serve as tutors or mentors in schools, run after-school programs, and lead and develop youth leadership programs to make a difference in the lives of children and their communities.

More than 1,400 young people ages 17-24 participate in 17 cities nationwide every year, and while participants are technically volunteers, City Year offers benefits such as:

  • Educational Stipend: Corps members receive an education award of $4,725 through AmeriCorps at the end of service.
  • Federal Student Loan Deferment: Student loans can be put into forbearance during the term of service.
  • Heath Insurance: Corps members are covered during active service.
  • T-Mobile Cell Phone: Corps member get a free cell phone and service for the duration of the service year.

Sound interesting? City Year is holding open houses throughout the U.S. on Wednesday, February 4, 2009 for people who want to learn more. Open houses will be held in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia, Columbus, Detroit, Little Rock/North Little Rock, Los Angeles, Louisiana, Miami, New Hampshire, New York, Greater Philadelphia, Rhode Island, San Antonio, San Jose/Silicon Valley, Seattle/King County,Washington, DC .

Or, visit the City Year website to find out more!

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Internship Opportunities at Teen Voices

Teen VoicesIf you live in the Boston area and want to learn more about the ins and outs of online and print magazine production, there are a number of internship opportunities currently available at teen magazine Teen Voices. Teen Voices is the original magazine written by, for, and about teens and young adult women. They offer an intensive journalism mentoring and leadership development program for teen girls, with a goal of “amplifying teen girls’ real voices in a world filled with too much media focused on what girls look like, not what they think.”

Internships are unpaid, but who needs money when you’ll be gaining a ton of experience in areas like: marketing, web and social media, art, photography, and much more. To apply, send your cover letter, resume, and writing samples to .

Good luck!

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Cool Stuff from the Gals at ReaderGirlz

ReaderGirlzHi Smart Girls!

If you haven’t checked them out yet, visit ReaderGirlz, a great site for girls who love books. ReaderGirlz was started by four cool fellow women authors from my hometown of Seattle to help girls get the inside scoop on hot books, celebrate strong girl characters in books, have fun while talking about favorite books with the authors, and inspiring girls to make history of their own. See my blog posting about the launch of ReaderGirlz here.

Today is ReaderGirlz one year anniversary…CONGRATULATIONS! ReaderGirlz is celebrating with a new awesome interview with big-time YA author, Sarah Dessen. They’re also announcing a new program called Operation Teen Book Drop – a plan to provide new books for teens in Children’s Hospitals across the country. Check out the website for all the info!

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Girl OverboardAlso – Justina Chen Headley, one of the founders of ReaderGirlz, is launching a cool, new project with Burton Snowboards – the Go Overboard Challenge Grant. Named after Justina’s new novel, , the Go Overboard Challenge Grant is giving grants of up to $1,000 each for the best youth-led ideas to change the world.

Here’s a quick video about this inspiring challenge:

I absolutely love this idea, since there’s nothing more frustrating than having big dreams for making the world a better place, but not having the resources to get started. Well, if you’ve got an idea to change the world, here’s your big chance…go for it!

XOXO Debbie

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Dollars for Darfur and International Women’s Day

Dollars for DarfurKudos to Teen Voices’ Activist of the Month, Ana Slavin, a 16-year-old high school student from Northfield, Massachusetts. Ana and her friend Nick Anderson have created created the program Dollars for Darfur to raise awareness about the crisis there and get teens involved in raising relief funds. From their website:

We hope to raise $200,000 to help the people of Darfur. It won’t be easy, but we know that high school students are up to the task. There are over 27,000 high schools in the United States. If each school raised just $50, we could raise over one million dollars!

You’ll find everything you need to start a fundraising effort at your own school here. And don’t forget to check out their .

On a personal note…rock on, Ana and Nick! How awesome that you’re creating such incredible momentum and proving the point that we can all make a difference. You are an inspiration to us all!

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International Women’s Day: Countries all over the world are celebrating International Women’s Day today, March 8. The annual event was started nearly 100 years ago to draw attention to the inequalities faced by women throughout the world, and has evolved today to focus primarily on celebrating their achievements and inspiring women everywhere.

From the official website:
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that all the battles have been won for women while many feminists from the 1970’s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy.

The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices.

To find out more about events happening through the U.S., visit IWD’s events page.

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