Girl Rising

Impact Highlights

Girl Rising is an ambitious campaign designed to raise awareness about the importance of girls’ education to global development, drive funding to girls’ programs and persuade policy leaders, influencers, and corporate leaders to prioritize girls’ education. At the center of the campaign is a feature-length film, also called Girl Rising, which features the stories of girls in the developing world who overcome significant barriers to achieve education. To bring scale to the effort, the campaign has created partnerships with influential public and private sector organizations and initiatives, including Intel Corporation, Clinton Global Initiative and #LetGirlsLearn, a partnership led by Michelle Obama and the Peace Corps aimed at prioritizing girls’ education in the developing world. Since March 2013, the film’s advocates have organized more than 17,000 screenings (both grassroots and theatrical) in 158 countries around the world and have raised approximately $2 million dollars in direct funding for girls’ education programs. Girl Rising has organized or participated in 38 policy-oriented screenings and has engaged more broadly with high-profile institutions such as the World Bank Group, Department of State, US Congress, the UN, Council on Foreign Relations, and the White House.


  • Premier: Paris Theater, New York City, March 6, 2013
  • Primary website:

From Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins, the film Girl Rising journeys around the globe to witness the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world. Viewers get to know nine unforgettable girls living in the developing world: ordinary girls who confront tremendous challenges and overcome nearly impossible odds to pursue their dreams of education. Prize-winning authors put the girls’ remarkable stories into words, and renowned actors give them voice.


The filmmakers received production funding from five kinds of funders: individual philanthropists/family foundations, corporations, traditional foundations, a TV distributor, and from Vulcan Productions, who was the co-production partner. Traditional foundation funding came from: Nike Foundation, Skoll Foundation, Ford Foundation, Fledgling Fund, and Corporate funding came primarily from Intel Corporation as well as smaller grants from other corporate foundations such as JP Morgan Chase,, and Oracle. TV distribution funding came from CNN.

Key Stats

  • Production Budget: $4.7 Million
  • Outreach Budget: $4.1 Million
  • Web Visitors: Over 420,000
  • Facebook Likes: 306,911
  • Twitter Followers: 59,100


Impact producers: Girl Rising built and executed an ambitious social movement campaign based in its New York City offices (for clarity, please note that the organization and the film are both called “Girl Rising”). The campaign team in Phase One consisted of ten people with a unique set of expertise including: journalism, marketing, nonprofit management, public relations, and partnership building. The creative team also played a key role by creating the rich visual media and stories that engaged audiences.


  • Raise awareness about the importance of girls education to global development
    (Target: 1 billion media impressions)
  • Change lives: Drive funding to girls programs (Target: $10 million)
  • Change policy: Persuade policy leaders, influencers, and corporate leaders to prioritize girls’ education (Target: high-level screenings, corporate engagement, and political focus)

Target location: While Phase One focused mostly on engagement in the United States, Girl Rising is a global campaign for girls’ education, so ultimately the world is its target.

Target groups: In the first phase, the campaign relied heavily on a core group of intensely passionate grassroots organizers from across the United States. They served as screening captains who organized theatrical screenings of Girl Rising through Gathr, a demand-based theatrical distribution company, and generated community support for the campaign community by community, all across the country.

First Phase NGO Impact Partners: CARE, Partners in Health, Room to Read, Girl Up, A New Day Cambodia, Plan, and World Vision.

Strategic Partners: Girl Rising was launched by award-winning journalists at The Documentary Group with founding production partner Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions, along with strategic partner Intel Corporation. Additional strategic partners include CNN Films, Gathr, Google, the Ford Foundation, the Nike Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and the Fledgling Fund.


Change in Awareness


  • An increase in attention and dialogue (at both the community and policy levels) around the idea that investing in girls’ education is smart, and can break the cycle of poverty in just one generation.

The Girl Rising campaign has created thousands of local girl advocates in communities around the world, helped to make the benefits of educating girls truly a part of the global development conversation, and mobilized thousands of people to organize events, channel resources, and support the wide array of girl-focused organizations across the globe.

At a high level, Girl Rising helped to make adolescent girls a high development priority. Most notably, the Clinton Global Initiative recently launched a collaboration of more than 30 companies, civil society organizations, multilaterals and governments to improve learning and leadership opportunities for young women and girls. Girl Rising is a key member of this collective effort, which has committed over $600 million dollars to reach 14 million girls over five years. Girl Rising also received a direct USAID investment of $3.6M to build programs India, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These programs aim to: 1) Raise awareness about the positive benefits of educating girls; 2) Directly engage adolescent girls and their “gatekeepers” in specific communities in each country to change knowledge, attitude, and practices and 3) Conduct targeted advocacy. Girl Rising was also instrumental in the White House’s recent launch of #LetGirlsLearn, a partnership led by Michelle Obama and the Peace Corps aimed at prioritizing girls’ education in the developing world.

Since the launch of the film in March 2013, the film’s advocates have organized more than 17,000 screenings (both grassroots and theatrical) in 158 countries around the world. Organizers like Jenn from the Philippines, who drove a Girl Rising caravan across the country after the typhoon, screened Girl Rising out of the back of a van as a way to give people hope in the midst of incredible devastation. The campaign inspired David, a teacher in Ghana, to organize marches and workshops for his classroom full of girls, so they too could feel empowered and in control of their own futures. Other individuals have used the film to fundraise significant funding—including Colleen in San Francisco who created a MasquerAID ball and raised nearly $40,000 for girls’ education programs.

Screening attendees: Not reported

Key Press Mentions: The New York Times, The Huffington Post, CNN, Plan International, and more.

Change in Behavior
Behavioral change goals varied partner by partner, but were generally one or both of the following:

  • Raise awareness about issues the organization dealt with
  • Raise money for the organization

Approximately $2 million dollars was raised as a direct result of Girl Rising screenings—both to partner organizations directly, and to the Girl Rising Fund. Other individuals also held very successful fundraising events, some leading to nearly $40,000 in money raised for girls’ education programming. During the CNN premiere, there was a huge surge in fundraising, with over $23,000 donated during the CNN broadcast alone, and the Girl Rising Fund grew about 70% during that same quarter, totaling $482,068 in donations as of July 31, 2013.

Many influencers also took notable actions as part of the Girl Rising campaign—for the CNN release specifically, numerous influencers tweeted, including Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian blogger who tweeted 9 times to her 181k followers. Four tweeters were influential fashion designers, and 11 influencers wrote letters on the CNN platform: Open Letters to Girls. In addition, cosmetics company Bobbi Brown launched a Girl Rising maketing effort to raise funds for girls’ education and wealth management company Charles Schwab screened the film to engaged clients around the country as a customer engagement effort.

On a more grassroots level, the film’s premiere and CNN broadcast helped build momentum for the campaign’s International Day of the Girl 2013 push, which resulted in over 2,000 locally organized events for girls’ education around the world. Many screenings, like one held at Women Lead’s headquarters in Nepal, resulted in direct behavior change among those who came to watch the film. After screening the film for them, Women Lead’s co-founder cited a renewed appreciation among the girls for the opportunity they have to go to school, as well as a stronger emphasis on academic achievement and increased study time in the following semesters.

Political Impact

Girl Rising has:

  • Been screened within state, national or international legislatures, or the EU or UN
  • Been used by partner organizations to lobby politicians or lawmakers
  • Created new political advocates
  • Been used as a lobbying tool by politicians to lobby other politicians or lawmakers

Since the release of the Girl Rising film, Girl Rising has organized or participated in 38 policy-oriented screenings (19 domestic and 19 international). Particularly notable events included: a World Bank Group rally, Social Innovation Summit, Women Deliver Conference in Malaysia, G(irls)20 summit, UNESCO Paris screening, and a USDOS Office of Women’s Issues event. The World Bank rally in April of 2013 was arguably the most notable, with over 1,000 people in attendance for the Girl Rising Washington DC premiere, and marking the first time that the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Young Kim shared a stage.

Girl Rising has also been a key participant in many of the notable Women in the World conferences, and brought one of the girls in the film, Senna, to the conference last year to perform her powerful poetry on stage. The campaign has leveraged Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister and the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, and Queen Rania of Jordan to play key roles in promoting the campaign and using their positions to drive change.

Girl Rising has also engaged directly with institutions that play critical roles in influencing domestic and international policy agendas such as the World Bank Group, Department of State, US Congress, the UN, Brookings Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, Department for International Development, and the White House. Since the campaign’s launch, there have been incredible strides in government efforts to support girls’ education both globally and nationally, most recently with the White House’s announcement of their #LetGirlsLearn campaign. Girl Rising has also recently been a part of several United Nations convenings and working groups. This past International Day of the Girl, Girl Rising was a key member of the United Nations working group and UNICEF showcase, planning the overall message and key activities for the day. There was also a high level screening with US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power.

Building Capacity

The campaign has resulted in:

  • Increased membership of partner organizations
  • Increased volunteering for partner organizations
  • Increased donations to partner organizations
  • New collaborations between partner organizations

The campaign also led to the establishment of new organizations focused on girls’ education. For example, Christine is a counselor at an all girls’ high school and runs her own organization, Sol Sisters, inspired by Girl Rising. Sol Sisters focuses on empowering women through beauty, including make-up tutorials and events. Girl Rising gave her the power to empower her students.

Festivals/Awards: The filmmakers did not enter the film into any festivals but it was invited to several, including but not limited to: Cleveland International Film Festival, Berkshire Film Festival, the Sun Valley Film Festival, the Garden State Film Festival, and special preview screening of a chapter at a “Launch Event” at Sundance.