The wheels are in motion: Skateistan and Be That Girl Foundation are teaming up to inspire and empower ever more girls to dare to determine their own future! From day one at Skateistan, girls’ empowerment has been a priority. We aim for 50% girls’ participation in all our programs and every day, we aim to show girls that they can be whatever they dream of being. So we were incredibly excited recently to sign a partnership agreement with Be That Girl Foundation, whose ideas and values align with ours so closely. Be That Girl Foundation is all about allowing girls to dare to follow their dreams, and they have pledged to support us with funding for our programs for the next five years! We’ll use that funding to run and expand our existing programs and also to look into new and innovative ways that we can reach more girls who need our support.
In this post, we dig a little deeper into the partnership with the founders of our two organizations; Oliver Percovich (Skateistan) and Cornelia Gantner (Be That Girl Foundation).
How did this partnership come about?
Cornelia: Like so often, it was a series of coincidences: Although Skateistan is very well known for its work with girls, we only got to know about it through our office manager Nina who is a friend of Ollie’s. And at the same time as my film That Girl was launched at the Zurich Film Festival in September, Ollie happened to be hiking in the Swiss mountains - so I invited him to the world premiere. I still don’t know how he managed to organize a tux and swap his hiking boots for dress shoes with such little notice, but I felt this was a great example of Ollie’s legendary adaptability - and hence a great start into our partnership!
Ollie: And I was very impressed by Cornelia’s film: Given our experience with movies (Skateistan was the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you’re a girl)), I instantly felt that we shared a common cause and values which we could build upon for the benefit of girls around the world.
Why is this partnership so exciting for Skateistan?
Ollie: Firstly this represents a really significant investment in our programs and will enable us to keep doing our work which is empowering girls around the world. And we’re also really excited that it will enable us to expand, innovate and test new ideas. We’re always looking for ways to innovate but it can be really challenging to find funders who are willing to take risks.
And how about from the other side? What made Skateistan appealing to Be That Girl Foundation?
Cornelia: Because it’s cool! ...in fact, that’s actually true: the Skateistan approach works because skateboarding is cool, so girls and boys work very hard to make it happen - and that sense of achievement then gives them the confidence to tackle their next goals. This ties in very well with the BTG Foundation Board’s belief that the key to self-determination lies in encouraging women and girls to choose their very own path and dare to - pardon the pun - do that first “ollie” in their lives ;-).
What Skateistan programs will Be That Girl Foundation support?
Ollie: First of all, I’m glad to announce that our partnership is for the long-term: we were able to sign an agreement covering the next five years which provides us with some security in an increasingly volatile world. As we agreed with Cornelia, one part of BTG’s yearly donation will contribute to covering Skateistan’s running costs which is essential for “keeping the lights on.” This stability is a really important aspect of what Skateistan represents in the lives of many of our students; a safe space where they know they will be looked after, encouraged and supported.
Cornelia: Speaking of lights: my husband and I are entrepreneurs, so in addition to supporting Skateistan’s ongoing programs, I also wanted to help Skateistan to venture out “where no NGO has gone before” - and turn on some more lights for girls in places which are difficult to reach. So the majority of our support will go towards a brand new direction, a kind of expansion kit which will allow Skateistan to quickly roll out programs in places like refugee camps or war zones where their support is needed most!
What are your expectations for the partnership going forward?
Cornelia: Our expectations are high because we got off to a great start: Ollie’s and my vision and values are a great fit, now it is all about creating reach and impact: If we manage to positively touch the lives of ever more girls in difficult to reach places in the years to come, then I will consider our partnership a great success. In my film “That Girl”, the protagonist Gladys challenges girls to “dream wildly” - that’s what Ollie and I are doing and I am confident it will work out!
Ollie: We’ve begun a really positive chapter. Now we’re excited to keep building this relationship and take things to really exciting places in the future. At the heart of everything we do is to create opportunities for our students, especially girls. This kind of stable but flexible partnership gives us a unique chance to really push our own boundaries and rise to the challenge of what today’s girls need.
We’ll keep you updated on how our partnership develops and the exciting new directions we can take because of the support from Be That Girl Foundation.