It is casually called the "Genius Grant" because, like the name implies, you kind of have to be a genius to get it. The MacArthur Foundation announced the 2016 list of artists, creatives, scientists and musicians who each get a sweet reward: $625,000.
Twelve of the 23 recipients are women and all of them are pretty amazing human beings. Just how amazing? You can watch one of the super smart science girls, Rebecca Richards-Kortum, at work in this video by Rice University.
If it doesn't make you tear up, you might not be human.
As you can see, this MacArthur winner’s passion for her work runs deep. Richards-Kortum's scientific efforts have been described as imaginative with her research and execution focused on saving lives, especially the lives of infants and mothers.
MacArthur Fellows can come from all disciplines, but each has one thing in common: "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction that manifests promise for important future advances,” according to the MacArthur Foundation.
The 20 recipients were chosen from roughly 2,000 confidential nominations. Since the program began in 1981, there have only been 1,000 fellowships given out to date.
So how do super-smarties like these spend the $635,000 they receive over the next five years?
Poet Claudia Rankine says she wants to use the prize money to help build an institute where creatives can come together to talk about the subject of race in America, while art historian and curator Kellie Jones says the first thing she is buying is a new desk.
For some, like artist and writer Laura Redniss, it may be something even more simple, like finding a studio so she can work without having to move her bed out of the way first.
Whoever said that art, writing, social causes and even helping the poor don't pay obviously never met these women (and, okay, there were 11 really great guys on the list too!). So this month our Super Girl is a lot of Super Women—each one smart and changing the world, just like we like them!
Womensforum is adding to our list of changing the world because she is making a difference using her words to inspire others to see themselves in a beautiful light. The newest winner of America's Got Talent manages to inspire us all with her positivity and unique style.
Grace VanderWaal had a secret she was keeping from her friends, teachers, and just about anybody who knew her. She had a beautiful singing voice. Not only that, the quiet girl had a lot to say. With encouragement from her family, the 12-year-old began singing at Peekskill's Bean Café and suddenly it wasn't just her unique voice, but her words, that were ringing in people's ears.
With the help of her mother, Miranda, Grace appeared on "America's Got Talent", where the young girl walked on stage and blew everyone away with her song . Grace says it was writing her songs and singing on her back porch helped her find herself through the music.
The 12-year-old now has a video channel called "Oh Never Mind It's Just Me" where she posts videos of her songs about finding her place in the world. Her Twitter motto says it all, . This summer Grace played in the Ramapo Summer Concert Series where an interview with USA TODAY proves new found fame is not changing this !
We all want to raise intelligent and empowered girls. But it isn't always easy. How do you teach your daughter about women who are doing amazing things if you don't know a ton of women who are doing amazing things? Maybe you're looking for help encouraging a positive body image or you just need guidance on how to answer those awkward puberty questions… without sounding awkward.
That's where these websites come in. Some are resource-heavy with great videos and interviews, and some offer helpful materials like books, games and toys. All of them aim to help girls and women feel comfortable in their own skin and empower them to do great things.
A Mighty Girl is self-proclaimed the "world's largest collection of books, toys, movies and music for parents, teachers and others dedicated to raising smart, confident and courageous girls." The founders, Carolyn Danckaert and Aaron Smith, started the site when they were looking for inspiring books for their nieces and had a hard time finding them.
Search for books, toys and even costumes for your mighty girl based on characters, genres or interests, all while making sure what you're searching for is age-appropriate. Their blog includes lists of books for different categories, like bedtime books, books about charity and community service, or toys and games for indoor active play. Be sure to follow them on Facebook because they are always posting quotes and stories from mighty girls, women and men throughout history.
SheHeroes "empowers young girls of all backgrounds to dream big, explore their interests and passionately pursue nontraditional careers. Through our online content and video profiles, girls imagine their own potential by engaging with influential stories of exceptional, successful women role models across all fields."
SheHeroes has dozens of inspirational videos on their website like profiles of successful women and interesting news and facts about women and girls.
"Founded by artist Amy Poehler and producer Meredith Walker, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls organization is dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves. We emphasize intelligence and imagination over 'fitting in.' We celebrate curiosity over gossip. We are a place where people can truly be their weird and wonderful selves. We are funny first, and informative second, hosting the party you want to attend."
Founded by one of our favorite comedians and actresses, Amy Poehler's Smart Girls has something for girls (and boys!) to watch and learn something new or confirm what they already know—which is how awesome they are! There are 15 YouTube shows to date with new episodes being released regularly.
"Since the first catalog debuted in 1986, American Girl has provided inspiring products for each stage of a young girl's development—from her preschool days of baby dolls and fantasy play through her tween years of self-expression and individuality. Through an array of premium-quality books, dolls, clothes, toys and accessories, American Girl has earned the loyalty of millions of girls and the praise and trust of parents and educators."
American Girl is known for their dolls and the books that come with them, but they also sell award-winning books that help girls learn about everything from crafting and cooking to their changing bodies and dealing with bullies. Their website has tons of activities for girls, and their magazine highlights the message "You're great—just the way you are!"
Girls Inc. "develops research-based informal education programs that encourage girls to take risks and master physical, intellectual and emotional challenges. Major programs address math and science education, pregnancy and drug abuse prevention, media literacy, economic literacy, adolescent health, violence prevention and sports participation." They fund their own research arm, advocate on behalf of women and girls locally and nationally, and provide scholarships to young women.
Girls Inc. has been providing programs for young working women and young girls since the first affiliate formed in 1864 in Waterbury, Connecticut. They've had a long history, and today they continue to serve women and girls throughout the United States and Canada.
These are the shining faces of Awesome Girls. These girls and their stories of hope and determination are timeless, just like the newest BeForever™ character from American Girl, Melody Ellison™.
Melody is a 9-year-old growing up in Detroit, Michigan, during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Melody learns that despite her young age, she can lift her voice to speak out and stand up for equal rights. Her uplifting story reminds girls that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they come together to make a difference.
This is, in fact, the theme behind American Girl's #LiftYourVoice campaign, which encourages girls to share stories of how they are creating positive change in their community.
Here at Melody's story inspired us to highlight some Awesome Girls who are lifting their voices to make our world a better place. Like Melody, they shine through their amazing compassion, perseverance, motivation and altruism.
Meet our Awesome Girls, whose creative hearts and take-charge attitudes will spark a spirit of change beyond their own communities.
Alanna Wall took her love of all things beautiful and turned it into a movement of hope and inspiration for young girls in the hospital. At 10 years old, Alanna was told she was too young to participate in her local hospital's volunteer program, but her compassionate spirit led her to create LEARN MORE ABOUT ALANNA
Sadie McCallum put her imagination to work when her limited ability to walk was getting in the way of following her passion. At just 9 years old she partnered with her sister to invent the Amazing Curb Climber, which makes her walker more like an all-terrain vehicle and allows her to be more independent. Her innovation is a shining example that nothing is impossible when you put your mind to it. Sadie lifts her voice to overcome obstacles and surpass her limits. LEARN MORE ABOUT SADIE
Eliana de la Casas discovered her talents for cooking and creating new dishes at an early age, and wanted to share the experience with other kids. By age 10, the "Kid Chef" was cooking on local television programs and spreading her mantra that "cool kids cook." Through writing cookbooks and hosting a radio show, Eliana hopes that kids will explore new foods and flavors. Eliana lifts her voice to empower kids in the kitchen. LEARN MORE ABOUT ELIANA
From Hailey Fort's first encounter with the homeless, she began planting the seed of change in her community. At 9 years old, Hailey started growing her charitable giving, and inspiring others to give as well. From building a mobile shelter to planting a garden for the homeless, she sees a need and takes action. Hailey lifts her voice to motivate others to make a difference. LEARN MORE ABOUT HAILEY
It can sometimes seem like the clothing options available for little girls are all the same - frilly dresses, glitter, and a whole lot of pink.
How do you dress your daughter if she's a free-spirit, a tomboy or plus-sized? How do you ensure that she'll want to wear the outfits you pick out for her, and that they are making her feel good about herself? Check out some of these awesome girl power clothing lines for inspiration!
In February, we first told you about Princess Awesome, a clothing line that challenges gender stereotypes by combining frilly dresses with dinosaurs, chemistry symbols and pirate ships.
Photo Credit: Princess Awesome
In their Kickstarter page, moms Rebecca Melsky and Eva St. Clair wrote, “We believe that if a girl likes purple and also likes trucks, she should be able to wear a purple truck dress. And if a girl likes princesses and also aliens, then an alien princess skirt is for her.”
A lot of fashion retailers offer plus-size girl clothing nowadays, but you want to pick designs that are flattering without being too spendy. Check out Kohl's and Target for affordable on-trend plus-size looks that will help your daughter feel comfortable in her own skin.
Photo Credit: Kohl's
The great thing about Quinn and Fox is that it's a unisex brand. Because it's unisex, you don't have to worry about extra frills and sparkles. It's perfect for a girl who would rather play than worry about dresses. Check out their website if your daughter cares more about comfort and versatility than having a tutu!
Photo Credit: Quinn and Fox
Header Photo Credit: Princess Awesome