Martice Sutton, avid traveler and founder, Girls Going Global (Image: File) Change a girl, and you will change the world. Whether we choose to believe it or not, our childhoods impact who we become as adults. Everything we learn and experience as a child shapes our values and beliefs from the start. Knowing this, exposing young girls to different cultures is critical in shaping the next generation of female leaders. Seeing the need to increase cultural awareness in young girls, Spelman College graduate Martice Sutton created Girls Going Global . Founded in 2012, Girls Going Global (GGG) is a social enterprise aiming to expose African-American girls to the cultures of the world. Sutton understood that creating a nuance understanding and curiosity about other cultures and religions alters your viewpoint to see things that are different than your own. BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Sutton to discuss the importance of expanding your boundaries, the challenges of starting a global non-profit, and the organization’s upcoming ‘Passport to the World’ program. Black Enterprise: What prompted you to start Girls Going Global? Martice Sutton : After graduating college I went to live and work in India for one year as an IDEX Social Enterprise fellow. While I was there, I started working with female empowerment organizations and had friends that did the same. I respected those that wanted to stay another year to continue empowering Indian girls, but I felt if I stayed, who was going to empower little black girls? Who was going to help the girls of West Philly? I wanted girls to know that my travel adventures were not especially given to me but that they too could do the same. Why is it important for girls to be exposed to other cultures? Girls need to know that there is more to the world than what they see in their neighborhoods. What have been your personal experiences traveling abroad? In all the countries I’ve been to, I usually never see anyone that looks like me. If I do, they are usually from the continent of Africa which is why so often I was never believed to be American. It felt like there was no concept of an African-American woman in any place outside of the U.S., so I wanted more of us to get out there and go. What countries have you traveled to? My first time out of the country was as a 6-year-old to visit my grandfather in Jamaica. My sophomore year of college, I got my first passport and did a service learning trip to Johannesburg, South Africa doing HIV/AIDS awareness work. Since then, I’ve traveled to Canada, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, England, Morocco, Turkey, France, and India. What have been your biggest challenges in founding the organization and how do you work to overcome them? Many people would probably guess funding. While that is definitely a challenge that I am still working to overcome it’s more of a challenge to build a solid team. That has surely been my biggest challenge to date. People are busy and it’s hard for many to dedicate their time and energy to something that is not paying the bills. I’m still in the process of overcoming this as I’ve started an advisory council that will serve as a gateway to board membership. The advisory council has been and will be a part of strategic planning and leading projects to further the organizations mission. Continued on next page What’s your ultimate goal for the GGG? The ultimate goal for GGG is to build a movement of young travelistas and inspire global awareness and leadership! We want to take the privilege out of travel and make global engagement a priority among black girls. I specifically see this happening by expanding the organization and building chapters throughout the U.S. to provide black girls with cultural experiences in their cities or communities. Do you have mentors who have helped you along the way? In many ways GGG originated and operated as a one woman show. In the past year both Shaleah Sutton of the Uniquely You Summit organization and Brandi Harvey of the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation have been my mentors and have been instrumental in my faith to push GGG forward. They have truly been blessings to my journey. I also admire all that Beverly Bond has created with the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! movement and look up to her as a virtual mentor. What’s next for Girls Going Global? In July we will be taking 10 girls to Costa Rica! This is a big deal for us because it’s our first trip flying. In the fall we plan to host our ‘Passport to the World’ program, conduct another round of Passport Workshops and Scholarships, and possibly host a winter 2014 trip! The goal is to one day host a minimum of 2 international trips per year and impact a minimum of 50 girls. The priority for this year is to build a solid team of people who are genuinely interested in taking the mission of GGG to the next level, this includes board members, interns, and I’m even open to a right hand woman! For more information about Girls Going Global, and to find out how you can support, visit GirlsGoingGlobal.org .