Local & Global Engagement

We cannot change the world if we isolate ourselves in privileged spaces.”

-Bryan Stevenson, Castilleja School, January 2018

Castilleja students sense the urgency to effect change in a world that is challenged by environmental, political, and social issues and an ever widening economic divide. Leading from a place of initiative, agility, and purpose underpins each student’s leadership journey at Castilleja. Despite the sense of urgency, students learn that it is through intentional, time intensive practices like developing empathy and purposeful reflection that they will gain the capacity to effect sustainable, mutually agreed upon change in their immediate, local, or global community.
 
Partnerships are integral to our leadership program.
 
Through her time on campus and in our experiential programming, each student comes to understand that authentic leadership is found when meaningful relationships locally and globally, premised on respect and genuine curiosity for one another, underpin civil discourse, debates, hard decisions, and one’s decision to stand up for a point of view of another person or group.

Local Partners


Founded upon the commitment to serving one’s community, a Castilleja education extends far beyond the classroom. We encourage our girls to explore a wide variety of service-focused activities throughout Palo Alto, across Silicon Valley, and beyond by partnering with over 40 regional community organizations.

Ada's Cafe

From student internships to community engagement opportunities, Ada’s Cafe offers Castilleja a partner in our local community that models partnership explicitly through its business practices. Castilleja students learn about entrepreneurship with an emphasis on the partnership model by working closely with Ada’s through a variety of experiences. In turn, Castilleja highlights the extraordinary vision of Ada’s Cafe and supports the initiative through the time and dedication of student volunteers and interns.

Palo Alto VA Hospital

Castilleja eighth graders work closely with our community partner: the Palo Alto Veteran’s Administration Hospital. The program’s curricular arc builds appropriately on the skills and competencies the students learned through the Brentwood School Partnership including listening, interviewing, self-reflection, and empathy. It also supports the students as they learn about how the VA Hospital operates, American history, the role of the federal government in a representative democracy, and the experiences of veterans who have represented our country in wars ranging from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

This extraordinary partnership will also position students to take advantage of internships and volunteer opportunities at the VA as Castilleja high school students.

Peninsula Bridge

Castilleja is proud to be a founding member and partner of Peninsula Bridge, a local organization thats supports underserved, highly-motivated middle school, high school and college scholars in a comprehensive 12-year program with year-round academic and social-emotional support. The program helps increase each student’s chance for success in school, life, and career, empowering a next generation of entrepreneurs, employees, and leaders from diverse backgrounds.


Global Partners


Partners are strongly committed to creating and fostering a long-term, deep, broad relationship with Castilleja students and faculty. Often there is an opportunity for the Castilleja community to further the partnership by raising funds or providing resources to partners so that reciprocal learning can be enhanced; when this is the case, Castilleja is committed to developing a model of giving that respects the dual nature of the relationship and honors the fact that each community has as much to learn as it has to give.


At Castilleja, global engagement isn’t theoretical, but rather it is deeply embedded into our curriculum through projects that explore practical, impactful applications of knowledge and skills. Two key annual touch points for Castilleja's global engagement program are the Junior Global Investigator Trips and Global Week.


Global Week

Each January, Castilleja School hosts Global Week to provide students with a unique opportunity to examine a globally relevant topic through workshops, projects, and in-depth engagement with speakers.

Global Week 2019

This year’s Global Week The Promises and Challenges of Artificial Intelligence will investigate how might we push the boundaries and understand the limits of artificial intelligence today and in the future.

Global Investigator Trips

The endowed Global Investigator Trip, started in 2008, ensures that all juniors have the opportunity for an issues-based experience outside the United States. This signature Castilleja program is designed to enable unique experiential learning opportunities for juniors.

Destinations and issues have included global environmental sustainability in China, ending generational poverty through girls’ empowerment in the Dominican Republic, partnering with Roshni Academy to better understand and explore the evolving roles of females in society in India, and exploring the issue of immigration policy and reform in France.

Students are able to experience first-hand the socio-political and economic complexities of globalization by collaborating with social change agents, educators, and students on the ground at Global Investigator destinations. 

On each Global Investigator Trip, participants develop empathy, knowledge, and cultural competence through:

  • Examining the political, economic, and social realities of the region through personal connections
  • Partnering with under-resourced communities/groups/students/learners
  • Sharing daily life with the same age group in the local community
  • Designing and implementing projects highlighting cross-cultural connections as a resource

Global Partnerships

The Castilleja Partnership Model holds at its core a commitment to reciprocal learning. Reciprocal learning mandates that partnerships members actively engage in collaborative projects, share common intellectual pursuits, and exchange and celebrate their cultural similarities and differences across grade-level and curriculum. 

Partners are strongly committed to creating and fostering a long-term, deep, broad relationships with Castilleja students and faculty. Often there is an opportunity for the Castilleja community to further the partnership by raising funds or providing resources to partners so that reciprocal learning can be enhanced; when this is the case, Castilleja is committed to developing a model of giving that respects the dual nature of the relationship and honors the fact that each community has as much to learn as it has to give.

Current partners offer a breadth of opportunities through which reciprocal learning occurs ranging from volunteer opportunities to internships to global investigator trips. Please contact the ACE Center if you’d like to learn more about a specific partnership.

Innovations in Global Programs

Created by National Coalition of Girls' Schools (NCGS), PEP Talks: Podcast on Educational Possibilities is hosted by experienced educators Ayanna "Yanni" Hill-Gill and Sarah Edson. 

PEP Talks brings together experts from NCGS member schools to share and discuss best practices in educating and empowering girls.

This episode is on Innovations on Global Programs. 

Please note: Stacey Kertsman begins speaking 13.5 minutes into the episode. 

Listen Here: Innovations on Global Programs

Kisaruni School

While primary education in Kenya is free, secondary education remains incredibly costly and largely out of reach for the com­munities supported by Free The Children. Studies suggest that girls experience higher returns to secondary education than do boys and that secondary education appears to have a greater positive impact on the lifetime welfare of women than any other level of education. Recognizing the need for continued education opportunities for young girls graduating from primary school, Free The Children opened the doors to its first All Girls Secondary School in the Narok South District of Kenya in January 2011. Castilleja School became Kisaruni’s partner school and began the process of creating a deep and meaningful, reciprocal relationship.

Kisaruni is a place where girls’ self‐confidence and esteem will flourish, empowering them to become exceptional leaders. While the school will follow Kenya’s national curriculum, Free The Children will also offer students a unique education system that will teach the girls new skills while also maintaining their strong sense of culture.  The partnership with Castilleja honors this vision.

One aspect of the Castilleja partnership lives in the Castaruni ACE Org, a student-led organization that is dedicated to developing the relationship between both schools throughout the year. One way which they accomplish this is through crafting and sending newsletters back and forth to keep each other informed.

Roshni Academy

Roshni, founded by Castilleja alumna Saima Hassan ‘04, is a non-profit organization dedicated to bridging the social divide in India by empowering bright girls from poor families to become self-sufficient. 
They achieve their mission through employability and life skills training programs for girls in secondary government schools in low-income communities. They also train parents and school teachers and provide academic scholarships and employment opportunities. Castilleja is proud to partner with Roshni and have its home base in New Delhi, India as a Global Investigator destination experience.
Since 2008, Roshni has trained approximately 5,000 girls across India.

Shanghai Girls School #3

Partnering around project-based initiatives focused on environmental sustainability, Castilleja and Shanghai Girls’ School No. 3 are realizing the power of leveraging global partnership.  Through the Investigator experience, students are able to meet in person to brainstorm collaborative work that can be continued throughout the school year.

The Mariposa Foundation

The Mariposa DR Foundation was founded in 2009 by a group of caring volunteers and children who were inspired by past works, and the urgent need for community-based solutions to end poverty. Our mission is inspired by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. These goals include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing the child mortality rate, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development. Achieving these goals is dependent upon the education and empowerment of women and young girls.

Mission: To educate and empower girls to create sustainable solutions to end generational poverty.

Vision: To create the model that can be adapted around the world for a holistic girls’ education and empowerment program to end generational poverty.

Castilleja students collaborate with The Mariposa Foundation throughout the year through student projects and our Global Investigator Trip program.