High Fives

Leading by Example

We are joyful to announce the awardees of the 2021 Classroom Catalyst grants! Chosen from a slate of inspiring applicants, these projects exemplify the kinds of leadership development educators are spearheading in their communities. From training and mentoring youth-leadership, to bolstering the school library’s holdings, to running team-building and mindfulness workshops - these awardees are leading by example. 



Second Grade Teacher 

Cheltenham, Pennsylvania 

Marissa Higgins is a second grade teacher at Cheltenham Elementary School in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, where she started the Girls with Grit club with her Classroom Catalyst award. The club focuses on community service, team building activities, leadership skills, a balanced and healthy lifestyle, friendship, and acts of kindness. The club meets once a week throughout the school year, rotating a different group of ten girls from grades 1-4. Each group has its own themes and goals such as: self-esteem, mindfulness, yoga, and healthy lifestyle. Groups work together on at least two community service projects throughout the school year. The funds from the Classroom Catalyst award are used to purchase books that focus on empowering girls to be unstoppable. She also purchased yoga mats, mindfulness kits, gratitude journals, art supplies, and a mirror to place positive affirmations around the edges. Guest speakers are invited in from the community to educate and inspire the girls.



Librarian and Novel Studies Teacher

Brusly, Louisiana

Dianne Palermo is a Librarian and Novel Studies Teacher at Brusly Middle School in Brusly, Louisiana. She finds that the pandemic has caused many of her students to feel alone and isolated. She is committed to enriching the lives of her diverse student body by exposing them to a wider range of literature and life stories. Currently, her library books and other resource materials do not include many reflecting the female point of view. She hopes to uplift the girls’ spirits and brighten their outlook on life. With those aims in mind, she will purchase hardback, more durable copies of books on the topics of girls in sports, realistic fiction whose protagonists are girl leaders standing up for themselves or their families, and biographies about the differences young girls are making in their communities, their countries, and our world.



Founder, Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Muneera Walker leads Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN) a 501(c)(3) nonprofit on the Main Line outside Philadelphia. One of the organization’s focus areas is educational support and empowerment for young people. As part of this programming, NHN has supported three local girls in taking the lead to identify community needs, planning community interventions, and executing those interventions. With a Classroom Catalyst grant, NHN will not only continue to support these three girls but will also expand their focus on girls leadership to reach an additional 20 new girl leaders. NHN will use the grant funds to purchase a conference table and chairs, office supplies, and leadership reference books all specifically dedicated to the young girls, their community work, and their developing leadership skills.

“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.”

Michelle Obama

Teacher Helping Student



We fund classroom instructors, coaches, camp, and religious leaders working in U.S. states, tribes, and territories in every content area, who serve students in Grades 2-12. This funding is for role models who are intentional and systematic at:


  • Calling on female identified youth at least as frequently as they call on male identified youth; 

  • Responding to trans- and cis- girls in detail with feedback and follow-up questions; and 

  • Bringing girls into all conversations and problem-solving activities.