Karen Venable-Croft’s Innovative Charter School Elevates the Next Generation of Innovators & Entrepreneurs

This passionate educator took a leap of faith and created a truly unique learning environment for young women

For more than two decades, math teacher Karen Venable-Croft was focused on bringing big ideas and unique paths to learning to her students. Then, two years ago, she and her partner took the ultimate leap, founding Girls Global Academy in Washington, DC. A charter school emphasizing engineering and business education, GGA has enabled Karen, Co-Founder and Founding Executive Director of the school, to bring her powerful brand of passion and exploration front-and-center, while educating the next generation of leaders and innovators.

Prior to launch, Karen taught math in Prince George’s County. “It was an incredibly diverse district, with more than 40 languages spoken and students from many countries and parts of the U.S.,” she says. “I loved it—but the sheer size of the school and the classes made it tough to really have the environment I wanted for my students. I wanted an environment where girls felt confident and eager to participate—somewhere they could truly thrive.”

With that vision paired with her hands-on experience, Karen and her partner set to work with a vision of creating an all-girls public charter high school unlike any other.

“Every girl takes an engineering and a business class,” she explains. “We thought that was really important for our students because it provides them with the skills to be able to critically think and become powerful problem solvers.” Students with these skills, she notes, can easily translate them no matter the educational and career paths they choose, be it STEAM, business, humanities or creative pursuits.

The school’s rigorous academics and four pillars—sisterhood, scholarship, service and safety—help girls find their passion and purpose so, during their high school careers and beyond, they can do, experience and achieve even more.

“We wanted to have a space where girls can be challenged and where they can lift each other up,” Karen says. “They know exactly who they can go to to get support. And they understand the power of service.”

This mindset has been especially critical during COVID-19, when students were forced into remote learning. Despite the challenges, GGA’s tight-knit community rose to the occasion, continuing to maintain their connections and their commitment to learning and to one another.

“Some students are already speaking with our engineering teacher on what an outdoor space could look like,” Karen says. “They took the initiative because they want to be together, to be a community. What could it look like? How could they utilize recreation centers, outdoor space in the open areas? And what does that mean—and how could it change the trajectory of what school is?” This, she notes, is central to why she launched the school—to inspire this type of real-world excitement and problem-solving. Already, she adds, that theory has been put to practice.

Looking ahead, Karen is eager to return to in-person learning—and to future GGA classes. With the school’s supportive environment and empowerment-first messaging, it’s clear students and graduates will be ready for the future work and all that comes next. While it’s been a long journey to this point, Karen wouldn’t have it any other way—and she encourages both her students and her fellow educators to take a step back so they, too, can find and act on their passions.

“Don’t be afraid to explore,” she says. “If you have a dream, pursue it. Surround yourself with people who are supportive and will allow you to ask questions—because, through those questions, you’re going to be able to find answers that drive you ahead. And above all, don’t be afraid to dream and speak out loud with your fellow sisters.”


Uniform and Dress Code Policy 2020-2021

Students are expected to wear a GGA uniform top at all times within the building. However, choice is important so any of these tops are acceptable.


  • Polo Shirt – Dark Purple or Black
  • GGA T-Shirt – Dark Purple (any shirt that has a GGA logo)
  • GGA White Short or Long Sleeve Dress Shirt

Optional Uniform Tops:

  • GGA Sweatshirt GGA Zip Up Fleece Sweater

PE and Athletics Uniform:

  • GGA Athletic Shorts
  • GGA Athletics T-Shirt (We provide these uniform items)

Girls Global Academy Dress Code:

GGA’s Co-founders believe that it is important to engage parents and students about what the uniform should look like at GGA. See additional information in the FAQ. Our goal is to provide simple guidelines to ensure students are ready and prepared for school. We reserve the right to adjust this dress code to ensure our attention is focused on what matters – your student’s education. We will also expect students to dress up to a higher level when they represent GGA in the community.


Where can I get uniforms?

GGA has contracted with a uniform vendor Risse Brothers. All uniforms are available for purchase online and can be shipped to your home. In addition, uniforms can be purchased in person at their facility: 9700 Martin Luther King Jr Highway Suite B, Lanham, MD 20706. (301) 220-1985

Group of diverse women put their hands together in stack empowering each other in breast cancer awareness campaign meeting

Special Announcement: GGA on Civil Unrest

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

Angela Y. Davis

Over the last few days, recent events have revealed frustration, pain, and inequities over the tragic and senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  This is on the back of the many others, like Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, that have lost their lives or faced the trauma of institutional racism.  It created a host of emotions and actions across the country and right here in Washington, DC.  Last week reminded us and continues to remind us that hate- filled actions have no place in a world where we seek, inclusion, kindness and liberation.

At Girls Global Academy, our focus is on educational justice to ensure that girls have access to opportunities to actualize their dreams.

We know that systemic barriers continue to exist on our path to equity in achievement gaps, STEM and business gaps and life outcomes.  This is not separate from pay inequities, which is not separate from food insecurities, which is not separate from health care gaps, which is not separate from forced childhood marriage, which is not separate from domestic violence, which is not separate from police brutality, which is not separate from the impact of the pandemic, which is not separate from the criminalization of girls of color in schools.  These are reminders that there is still work to do so that we, together, can build and fight for the future that our girls deserve.  

We are building a school based on positive systems that affirm individual identity and uplift our school community.  Our students can explore what is possible and create a path to obtain it.  If we are to be true to our vision of creating leaders that influence change for global benefit then we must begin to have the dialogue about issues that will have an impact on our students both inside and outside of our physical school structure. 

Our mission is to foster pathways to lead and learn so that our school community feels empowered.   We want to give voice to what happened and how it impacts a school community.  Therefore, we continue daily to uphold our pillars.  

Safety: We commit to providing safe spaces to discuss and cultivate mental wellness and self- care because we value people.

Scholarship:  We continue to host and join forums for our founding students, families, and staff to dialogue on issues that matter.

Service:  We stand with people that work to disrupt and dismantle systems of oppression.

Sisterhood:  We honor and celebrate our identity and connection to the local and global society. 

The GGA leadership team wanted each of you to know that You Matter and look forward to you joining us to ensure that we are creating pathways for our students to lead and learn maximizing each student’s unique potential.

Here is a resource to support conversations with students at 6:00 pm this evening through Common Sense Media.

Helping Kids Process Violence, Trauma, and Race in a World of Nonstop News 


Karen Venable-Croft, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Girls Global Academy

Shayne Swift, Co-Founder and Principal of Girls Global Academy

Beth Blaufuss, Board Chair of Girls Global Academy


GGA Newsletter – May 2020

May's Erollment Opportunities

From our Founding Teachers

We conduct discovery sessions with our families and also conduct them with our founding staff. There are two quotes from our founding Engineering teacher and founding Physical Education & Health teacher that resonated. We wanted to share these words of wisdom with you. Stay tuned for additional staff spotlights!
“Balance one day does not look like balance the next day”
“With all the uncertainties, optimism and gratitude are our greatest allies”

Resources Folder

We know that keeping track of the different newsletters with resources is a challenge and we have now started housing everything in one place! Check out the info from the DC Libraries, summer enrichment opportunities and COVID-19 recovery. Click the image to the right to explore!

In This Issue:

  • Erollment Roll Call
  • Erollment Support
  • What’s Upcoming

GGA Newsletter – April 2020

April is Financial Literacy Month

From The Girl Scout Research Institute:

“Financial literacy is a growing concern given the state of the U.S. economy over the past five years. The recession has led to high unemployment, foreclosures, personal and national debt, inflation, and financial uncertainty. In order to properly grasp these concepts and prepare themselves for their financial future, today’s youth need a solid understanding of age-appropriate money management and economics. This is especially important given the fact that financial literacy is not currently a standard component of the K−12 education curriculum in the United States, and thus the responsibility for teaching these skills has fallen to parents, families, and out-of-school-time programs.”

GGA’s take on financial literacy:

Who takes financial literacy at GGA?

Welcome Paige our Student Support Services Coordinator

Paige will oversee and support our students who have Individualized Education Plans, 504 Plans, and students who are English Language Learners to ensure our instructional staff meet student needs and families are our partners.

In This Issue:

  • Four Pillar Resources
  • Priority One: We will know our students
  • Financial Literacy Reads


Your Safety Matters

Special Announcement on Social Distancing from GGA – Because You Matter

At Girls Global Academy, health and safety are important and we want to take the necessary precautions to ensure that we uphold our Safety pillar. We are located at 733 Eighth Street NW and our staff will be teleworking.  We will not be hosting any building tours from March 16 – March 31.  Although this may disrupt some of our plans to host our families, we will continue the work of our mission.

Social distancing not only applies to the employees and Board members of Girls Global Academy, it applies to our efforts to personalize our interactions with our families and community.  Outreach has been a staple for Girls Global Academy since we started this journey.  We will continue to work with City Bridge Education, Education Forward DC, and PAVE as they provide guidance on creative ways to continue our interactions with families and community members.  We have already begun to set a plan in motion so that our families continue to feel that they are connected to Girls Global Academy.

Stay tuned to how we will connect virtually for our March 28 Open House.

Please click on this Meal Distribution link for the DC Public Charter Schools Citywide Meal Distribution sites for all students under age 18. 

Thank you for continuing to engage as we work to fulfill the promise that we will open a high quality school that gives girls the voice and confidence to explore all that is possible.  Because you matter we are just a phone call away if you need anything.

Be safe.



Karen Venable-Croft

Co-Founder / Executive Director
Women's History Month

GGA Newsletter – March 2020

March is Women’s History Month which celebrates the important roles women have played in American History!
We are participating in the 2nd Annual #FITDC HerStory 5K Walk/Run on Saturday March 7, 2020. It is not too late to join us. Check out the activities Apple is hosting this month at their store near us using the link below.

Girls Global's Four Pillars

A true global sisterhood is about being able to discuss the universal struggles of womanhood. Shared language is used to celebrate, support, and uplift each other to ensure students are writing their own narratives for their futures both individually and as a collective.

How will GGA do that?

  • Advisory
  • Community Meetings


The world is our backyard and “just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” Through service-learning you try on a range of leadership identities while supporting your community in both local and global contexts.

How will GGA do that?

  • LEADership Academy
  • Global Partnerships

Future-ready scholarship must address the fact that skill-sets will change based on industry. Students must be life-long learners so they have the ability to flex, adapt, and pivot to gain additional skills as needed or reinvent themselves if the skill-sets become out-of-date.

How will GGA do that?

  • Global Curriculum
  • Engineering &
  • Entrepreneurial Mindsets


Safety starts with you by having compassion for yourself and others. Physical and emotional safety are critical for wellness. Confidence is fostered when students feel safe and is a skill that is taught, much like the development of muscle memory and supports moving thoughts to actions.

How will GGA do that?

  • Safe Passage to School
  • Developing a Growth Mindset

Post-Lottery & March Open House Events

Priority One: We will know our students.

One of the best parts of working in education is getting to know students and their families. We have met with eight awesome students and their families thus far for one-to-one meetings and would love to get to know more of you. If you need interpreter services, then we will provide it to you. Schedule a coffee/tea/water meeting with us!

Parent Perspective
~ by Shanti Martin, parent of a rising 9th Grader

This kind of meeting is important from a student and parent perspective because it gives the student a chance to ask questions that are important to them entering high school. It also gives the staff the opportunity to meet the student to see personality traits and ask questions that could possibly help the school be more empowering when it comes to activities, subjects, community service etc.

These meetings are important because the staff will have a head start before the school year starts on what to offer students and what’s best for the the school, parents etc as a whole. It truly takes a village and it’s better when the students have input so that they know the school truly cares about any needs and concerns.

After our meeting Savannah was relieved and felt so much better. She is super excited to become apart of the Girls Global Academy. I as a parent would love to join their organization as well because I believe in the mission and what they are offering to all young ladies…our future entrepreneurs.

What do you discuss during the meeting?

  • Hopes and dreams
  • Excitement and fears about high school
  • Student areas of strength and areas of growth
  • Interests, hobbies, and activities
  • Anything else the student and their family would like to discuss
Where do you conduct the meeting?
  • Your home
  • Local library
  • Starbucks
  • You pick the location
How long is the meeting?
  • Just one hour of your time
What do I bring to the meeting?
  • Your ideas
  • Your hopes
  • Your dreams
  • Your questions
  • Your concerns
  • Anything else you think would help us get to know you

Repost: Families Are Our Partners

Parent Perspective
by Tosha Crawford, parent of a rising 9th Grader
I was honored to be asked to participate in a panel interview for prospective teachers at Girls Global Academy (GGA). I jumped at the chance and thought it would be a wonderful experience where my voice could be heard by the administrators regarding the culture and expectations of teachers.
Over the years, I have listened to students and parents talk about teachers and their inability to connect to girls of color. So it was important to me to have my voice heard when establishing the culture at GGA. 
I wanted to meet candidates who chose teaching as a passion rather than a job. Teachers who would be able to relate the subject area to the real everyday world for the girls. And most importantly, I wanted to hear authentic responses to scenarios which included understanding urban girls of color and cultural sensitivity.  
The experience was eye opening! 
Here are some ways for you to be involved right now:
~ Follow us on Social Media @GirlsGlobalDC and like our posts.
~ Attend our service events and volunteer beside your student.
~ Weigh in on what social-emotional skills we should prioritize for year one.
~ Distribute flyers/posters to get the word out about Girls Global.
~ Join our steering committee to guide engineering and business pathways.
~ Make a suggestion on how you would like to be involved!
~ Participate on our hiring panels for staff members.
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