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Gold Award Facts and Figures

Gold Award Information

Senior & Ambassador Gold Award Prerequisites                          

The requirements for applying to earn your Girl Scout Gold Award are simple.
You must:

  • Be in 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grades
  • Be a registered Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador
  • Have completed two Senior or Ambassador Journeys OR have earned the Girl Scout Silver Award and one Senior or Ambassador Journey.

    Gold Award

    Are you ready to make a difference in the world?

    The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouts.

    Open only to girls in high school, the Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award in the world for girls—and the most difficult to earn—and it’s only available to Girl Scouts. As a Gold Award Girl Scout, you’re challenged to change the world—or at least your corner of it. 

    Gold Award Girl Scouts are making the world a better place. These young women are inspiring leaders whose Gold Award projects are impacting the worlds of STEM, education, agriculture, medicine, and more on a local, national, or global level.

    By the time you put the final touches on your seven-step project, you'll have solved a community problem—not only in the short term, but for years into the future—and you’ll be eligible for college scholarships.

    Check out the seven steps below.


    Identify an issue.
    Use your values and skills to choose a community issue that you care about.


    Investigate it thoroughly.
    Use your sleuthing skills to learn everything you can about the issue you've identified.


    Get help and build your team.
    Form a team to support your efforts and help you take action.


    Create a plan.
    Identify the root cause of an issue, and then create a plan to tackle it.


    Present your plan and gather feedback.
    Submit your Project Proposal Form to your Girl Scout council for approval.


    Take action.
    Lead your team and carry out your plan.


    Educate and inspire.
    Tell your story and share your results.

    The Benefits of Going Gold

    Gold Award Girl Scouts do well in life! They rate their general success significantly higher than their peers and report greater success in reaching their goals in many areas.

    •  Higher education and career
    o Distinguish yourself in the college admissions process
    o Earn college scholarships
    o Enter the military one rank higher

    •  Life skills
    o Be seen as a role model and distinguished leader
    o Master time management skills
    o Make the world a better place

    •  Community
    o Use your vision for change
    o Tackle an issue, locally or globally
    o Establish a lifetime network
    o Create your community legacy with a sustainable solution to a problem

    Source:  Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact Study, a report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, 2012

    Download (PDF) Gold Award Guidelines  English | Español

    Download (PDF) Gold Award Proposal

    Download (PDF) Gold Award Final Report

    Adult Guide: Girl Scout Gold Award

    As a volunteer, you’ll encourage Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors working toward their Girl Scout Gold Award. Use this guide to support girls as they develop into tomorrow’s leaders.

     Download (PDF) English | Español

    Girl Scout Gold Award FAQ

    Why are Journeys prerequisites to earning the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards? 
    The Journeys let girls experience what they’ll do as they work to earn Girl Scouting’s highest awards. The skills girls gain while working on Journeys will help them develop, plan, and implement Take Action projects for their Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award.

    How do girls know when a Journey is "completed?" 
    A Journey is completed when a girl has earned the Journey awards, which include creating and carrying out a Take Action project.

    What makes the guidelines for Girl Scouting’s highest awards different from those for the Journeys?
    In contrast to Journey Take Action projects, which give girls themes on which to base their projects, Girl Scout Gold Award Take Action projects have no predesigned theme. A girl selects her own theme, and then designs and executes a Take Action project.

    What are the suggested hours for earning each of the awards? 
    Not all projects will require the same length of time to move from planning to sharing and celebration. The time it takes to earn the awards will depend on the nature of the project, size of the team, and degree of community support. Quality projects should be emphasized over quantity of hours. After Journey requirements are fulfilled, the suggested minimum number of hours to use as a guide is: 

    • Bronze Award: 20 hours
    • Silver Award: 50 hours
    • Gold Award: 80 hours

    Can a troop work toward an award together? 
    Each award level brings a new progression of leadership development and each award level has different group guidelines. At the Bronze level girls must work together in a team setting. When girls work on their Silver Award, they have the option to work individually or in a small group setting. The Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, which girls must earn as individuals.

    Can girls begin working on their awards the summer after they bridge (transition) from one Girl Scout level to the next?
    Yes. Girls can begin to earn the awards over the summer.

    Can Take Action projects for the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards focus on Girl Scouting?
    Take Action projects for the Girl Scout Bronze Award may focus on service in support of the Girl Scout movement, while Take Action projects for the Girl Scout Silver Award and Gold Award are expected to reach into the community to "make the world a better place." The award progression is planned to offer younger girls the opportunity to develop their planning and leadership skills within the comfort and familiarity of Girl Scouting. As they mature in Girl Scouts, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors are ready to move beyond the Girl Scout family to share their leadership skills with the wider community. It is in fully exploring their communities that older girls exemplify the Girl Scout mission to "build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place."

    If a girl starts working on her Take Action project and moves, can she still earn her award?
    Councils and Overseas Committees are encouraged to be flexible to work and serve girls’ best interests. If a girl moves, she should work with her council and/or Overseas Committees to complete her project.

    Who are the adult guides for: council staff, parents, or volunteers?
    Any adult is welcome to use the adult guides. The guides were designed for volunteers working directly with girls who are earning their awards.

    Do we need a different set of requirements for girls with disabilities to earn the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards?
    No. Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award work is done to the best of a girl’s ability. There is no need to have special requirements for girls with disabilities—encourage flexibility and the recruitment of advisors that can work with the girl individually.

    Can a troop or group work toward a Gold Award together?
    The Gold Award is an individual girl’s journey. The Gold Award process requires a girl to take control of her leadership development and grow in new ways that a group setting cannot provide. This is a commitment she makes and completes as an individual.

    Is sustainability differentiated at each grade level?
    The guidelines give girls tools to examine the underlying root cause of issues, develop sustainable project plans, and measure the impact of their projects on their communities, target audiences, and themselves. There is progression. While Girl Scout Juniors working on their Girl Scout Bronze Awards will reflect on how their projects could be kept going, Girl Scout Cadettes plan for sustainability. Seniors and Ambassadors work to ensure the sustainability of their project in order to meet Gold Award standards of excellence.

    While Juniors explore an issue that affects their Girl Scout community, Cadettes create a community map of their neighborhood or school. Meanwhile Seniors and Ambassadors earning the Gold Award assess an issue and its effect more broadly by interviewing community leaders, researching using a variety of sources, and investigating other communities’ solutions to similar problems.

    Who can earn the Girl Scout Gold Award?
    A girl must be a registered Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador.

    Can individually registered girl members or “Juliettes” earn the Girl Scout Gold Award?
    Yes. Any girl who meets the grade-level and membership requirements can earn her Girl Scout Gold Award.

    Does a Senior or Ambassador need to complete the two Journeys in any particular order?
    No. She can complete either two Girl Scout Senior-level journeys, two Ambassador-level Journeys, or one of each.

    How can we make sure that Girl Scout awards represent quality projects?
    The best way to make sure a girl is working at the best of her ability is to ensure that both she and her project advisor receive orientation about the award and understand the difference between a one-time community service opportunity or event and a Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award Take Action project. It’s the responsibility of the troop/group volunteer, council staff member, or Gold Award committee to work with the girl to ensure she meets the quality requirements of the award.

    What is the difference between a troop/group volunteer and a Girl Scout Gold Award project advisor? Do girls need both?
    A troop/group volunteer is the adult who works with Girl Scouts. Once a girl identifies her issue, the troop/group volunteer might help her identify a person in the community who could be a great project advisor.

    A Girl Scout Gold Award project advisor is a volunteer who guides a girl as she takes her project from the planning stage to implementation. The project advisor is typically not a girl’s parent or a Girl Scout troop/group volunteer. The project advisor is typically someone from the community who is knowledgeable about the issue and who can provide guidance and expertise along the way.

    Why can’t a parent be a Girl Scout Gold Award project advisor?
    Girls are encouraged to connect with others in their communities when earning the Girl Scout Gold Award. That means working with a project advisor who is not her parent.

    At what point should a Girl Scout Gold Award project advisor be identified?
    The project advisor should be identified in the planning phase, before the Girl Scout Gold Award project proposal is turned in to the council. The project advisor expands the network of adults and provides expertise for a girl’s project. If a girl has an idea before she starts any work on her Gold Award, she might want to identify her project advisor at the very beginning.

    What is the role of a council’s Girl Scout Gold Award committee? 
    Some councils have developed Girl Scout Gold Award Committees to support Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors as they go through the process of earning their Gold Awards. Girl Scout Gold Award Committees are typically comprised of community members, educators, key volunteers, and young women who have earned their Girl Scout Gold Awards. The committee works with designated council staff.

    The committee’s role is to ensure girls’ projects meet the national guidelines. Generally, the committee reviews Girl Scout Gold Award project proposals, makes recommendations for project development and resources, reads the final reports, and makes recommendations to the council on whether to approve the projects. In some councils the committee approves the projects. If a girl’s project has not yet achieved its goals, the committee provides suggestions and tips to help her develop a high-quality Gold Award project.

    What does it mean to have a sustainable project?
    A sustainable project is one that lasts after the girl’s involvement ends. A focus on education and raising awareness is one way to make sure a project is carried on. Workshops and hands-on learning sessions can inspire others to keep the project going. Another way to create a sustainable project is by collaborating with community groups, civic associations, nonprofit agencies, local government, and/or religious organizations to ensure the project lasts beyond a girl’s involvement.

    How does a girl measure project impact?
    Girls identify their project goals in relation their communities, target audiences, and themselves by developing success indicators using a matrix provided in the Gold Award guidelines.

    Can a girl earn the Girl Scout Gold Award even if she hasn’t been in Girl Scouts very long? 
    Yes! She just needs to be a registered Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador to begin her Gold Award project.

    What if a girl is 18 and graduating? Can she complete her project when she is in college?
    A girl has until she turns 18 or until the end of the Girl Scout membership year (September 30) when she is a senior in high school.

    What if a girl graduates and is 18 and doesn’t have her project completed?
    In this case a girl would have until September 30 of the year she graduates.

    What if a girl’s project is not completed by the time of her council’s ceremony?
    This is up to the girl. She might be recognized among her peers for her work-in-progress at her council’s Girl Scout Gold Award ceremony, be honored in a separate ceremony, or come back for the following year’s ceremony. If the council has a set time for honoring Girl Scout Gold Awardees, girls should be notified when they begin their project. Girls and their project advisors are encouraged to work within the council’s timeline. Ceremony time should not dictate whether or not a girl is able to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award.

    100 Years of Extraordinary Projects from Extraordinary Girls

    As a Gold Award Girl Scout, you're part of an elite group of young women.

    Starting in 1916, the best and brightest have undertaken projects to improve their communities—and the world. The Golden Eaglet insignia, the highest award in Girl Scouts from 1916 to 1939, marked the beginning of a long tradition of recognizing the extraordinary efforts of extraordinary girls. From 1940 to 1963, the Curved Bar Award was the highest honor in Girl Scouts. From 1963 to 1980, the highest award was called First Class. And since 1980, the Gold Award has inspired girls to find the greatness inside themselves and share their ideas and passions with their communities.

    How to Go Above and Beyond

Gold Award Facts and Figures

Gold Award Fact
  • Gold Award Girl Scouts spend between one and two years on their projects.
  • The average age of Gold Award Girl Scouts is 17.
  • In nearly 100 years, one million girls have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent.
  • Gold Award Girl Scouts who join the armed services enter at one rank higher than other recruits.
  • University research indicates that adding Gold Award to a college application is a critical element in the admissions-decision process.

Tools and Resources

Stay organized and keep track of your ideas, contact information, appointments,and plans with the Girl Scout Gold Award Tools and Resources.

This toolkit includes a standards of excellence tracking sheet, tips,planning guides, and advice to help with each step of your Take Action project.Use these tools as you need them-and don't forget that your journey(s) include toolsand ideas, too!

Gold Award History

The Golden Eagle of Merit, the highest award in Girl Scouting from 1916 to 1919,marked the beginning of a long tradition of recognizing girls who make a differencein their communities with a prestigious award. The names have changed, but the meaningstays the same:

  • 1916-1919 Golden Eagle of Merit
  • 1919-1939 Golden Eaglet
  • 1938-1940 First Class
  • 1940-1963 Curved Bar
  • 1963-1980 First Class
  • 1980-present Gold Award

National Young Women of Distinction

Every year, ten exceptionally inspiring Gold Award Girl Scouts are chosen asNational Young Women of Distinction (NYWOD).

This honor is given to Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors whose GoldAward projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership, had a measurableand sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to anational and/or global issue. These young women are taking mattersinto their own hands, generating much-needed change!

The NYWOD program perfectly reflects our mission of building girlsof courage, confidence, and character who make the world a betterplace. The program provides these young stars with the opportunity toinspire girls around the world and throughout the Girl ScoutMovement—and serve as incredible examples of what it means to be a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™.

2017 NYWOD
You can learn more about the 2017 awardees inour press release

Did you know?

  • NYWOD represent GSUSA as speakers at a number of local and national events.
  • All selected NYWOD receive professional public speaking training.
  • NYWOD have the opportunity to reach a national audience while highlighting the importance and impact of their projects.
  • NYWOD are awarded college scholarships and other opportunities to sustain their Gold Award projects.

How are the National Young Women of Distinction chosen?

Councils are asked to select their top three Gold Award Girl Scoutsusing GoGoldOnline. Girl Scouts who would like their councils to considernominating them as a National Young Woman of Distinction are requiredto use GoGoldOnline. GSUSA then ensures a rigorous review process, during whicheach application is thoroughly evaluated by GSUSA staff and anexternal panel of trusted partners. Once the list is narrowed, GSUSA'sinternal NYWOD team selects the top ten.

When are the National Young Women of Distinction selected?

Councils are asked to nominate candidates annually from April 1through April 30. Following a two-month review process, ten new NYWODare announced during the first week of July.

For more in-depth information on the nomination process, councilstaff can join GSUSA's Pearl community.

To find out more about the National Young Women of Distinction or tosupport the program, please contact us.