If you can see it, you can be it.
It’s a simple message, but it’s one that Katlyn Grasso wants more young girls around the world to understand — and to embrace.
“I grew up in an environment where I was conditioned to believe that girls can do anything,” says Grasso, a recipient of the 2015 President’s Engagement Prize.
But not every young girl across the country — and around the world — is so lucky.
With the help of the 2015 President’s Engagement Prize, Grasso is sharing her experience and knowledge to help girls acquire the confidence and skills they need to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Grasso founded GenHERation, a female empowerment network for millennial girls, in 2013. GenHERation provides experiential learning opportunities for young women in high school and middle school, opening the door for them to work with female executives at national corporations and nonprofits to develop their own advocacy campaigns addressing community issues.
“The ages of 11 to 17 are so critical in a young woman’s life that you really have to make sure that you are forming healthy lifestyle habits and positive perceptions of your best self,” says Grasso.
After graduating from The Wharton School in May 2015, Grasso hit the ground running. She used her Prize funds to launch a 10-city leadership tour across North America, hosting workshops and bringing her message of female empowerment to cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, and Philadelphia.
“The President’s Engagement Prize is going to be the catalyst that promotes expansive growth beyond my wildest dreams,” says Grasso.
Grasso became interested in empowering girls after conducting research into female leaders in business. She was surprised to learn that only about 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs and that even fewer women start their own businesses.
“I realized that girls have to realize their leadership potential at a young age so that they gain the confidence to pursue those leadership positions later in their life,” says Grasso. “There’s a need for a market space to connect girls with companies in order to inspire girls to do good while honing and developing their leadership skills.’”
Grasso’s goal for GenHERation? Reach 15,000 young girls nationwide. It’s ambitious, but if there’s one person who can do it, says Lee Kramer, Director of Student Life at Wharton, it’s Grasso.
“We tell students from the get-go that they can do anything here,” says Kramer, Grasso’s project mentor. “Katlyn has really embodied that spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity.”