Girls Build LA

In 2015, women held 25% of all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) occupations; Latinas and Black women held only 1% and 3% of these jobs, respectively. Early exposure to STEM content and building skills like critical analysis and project management are critical in closing the gender gap in STEM fields and the economy at large.

Girls Build LA, an initiative run by the LA Promise Fund, challenges young women from public middle and high schools across LA County to use STEM principles and 21st Century learning skills to effect social change. Girls Build LA activates young women to engage the issues they care about, and prepares them to solve the problems of tomorrow.

The Challenge

On October 17th, we kicked off the Girls Build LA Challenge – Year 2 with an event for 500 participating girls. Their mission, over the course of the academic year, was to address an issue in their school or community in one of three critical impact areas: Health & Wellness, Civic Engagement & Leadership, and STEM & College Access using STEM skills. Regional experts and skilled coaches facilitated the problem-solving and solution-design process. The students from each participating team then build the skills necessary for effective leadership, like collaboration, communication, consensus-building, and project management.

Girls Empowerment Month

For the second year in a row, the Board of the Los Angeles County Supervisors passed a resolution honoring Girls Empowerment Month. This historic resolution was also declared by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the Los Angeles City Council, and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. As part of Girls Empowerment Month, businesses from diverse industries, including technology, entertainment, and government, hosted hundreds of young women who heard from executives about their career pathways and opportunities. These eye-opening trips shed light on the different paths that women can take to professional success, and introduced them to opportunities they might never otherwise know about. Last year, over one thousand students were engaged in Girls Empowerment Month.

Discover Girls Empowerment Month.

A Special Screening of Hidden Figures

On January 10th, 10,000 girls from Los Angeles County schools came together for a very special screening of the 20th Century Fox film Hidden Figures at USC’s Galen Center during the 25th Anniversary of the Empowerment Congress. The girls were also treated to a pre-screening program featuring Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Pharrell Williams, and Aldis Hodge. The program also featured activity lead for NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover, Diana Trujillo, and a video from space by NASA astronaut and first female commander of the International Space Station, Peggy Whitson. It was emceed by Biomedical Scientist, Senior Policy Advisor, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and former teacher Knatokie Ford. The girls were inspired by the speakers, all of whom affirmed their ability to blaze new trails, to reach new heights, and to pioneer paths in STEM.

Hidden Figures tells the incredible story of three brilliant African-American women mathematicians who worked for NASA in the early 1960s and played a pivotal role in launching astronaut John Glenn into space, helping him become the first American to orbit the earth. This inspiring true story mirrors Girls Build LA’s commitment to encouraging young women to develop their STEM skills. Thanks to the support of the LA County Board of Supervisors, 10,000 girls will be transported to USC for this gathering. This event is supported by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Read and watch coverage of the day!


The Culminating Event: The Expo

On May 13th, 500 girls from 50 schools gathered together at West Adams Preparatory High School to show off the projects they had spent a year designing and executing. These 50 projects, submitted by middle and high school teams, were then judged, and six – three middle and three high school – were then awarded over $60,000 in college scholarships.

The winning teams demonstrated leadership, perseverance, STEM skills, and much more.

Explore their projects!


In the current political climate, the rights of Los Angeles residents seem increasingly under threat: immigrants’ rights, access to education, women’s rights. Add these concerns to longstanding risks facing our students: In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the country, over 80% of all students live in poverty. In addition to economic barriers, young women are dealing with violence in their neighborhoods, crime, gangs, even sexual exploitation. Girls Build LA is designed to empower those who, arguably, are and would be most affected by these risks to identify solutions.


  • 10,000 young women attended a screening of Hidden Figures. The event featured special guest appearances by stars Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Aldis Hodge and music composer and producer Pharrell Williams.
  • 7,000 young women attended the inaugural year’s launch: a screening of He Named Me Malala. The girls watched the film, as well as a special video message from First Lady Michelle Obama, and engaged in a critical conversation around gender equity.
  • 1,000 young women from dozens of schools have been engaged over 2 years, forming teams that develop grassroots solutions to urgent problems with far-reaching impact, positively affecting thousands of their peers and community members.
  • $50,000 in college scholarships are awarded to six winning teams each year.
  • Students everywhere are invited to celebrate gender equity through our social media campaign using #GirlsBuildLA. Together we can raise awareness about the barriers to success that young women face, and celebrate their continued empowerment.


If you would like to learn more about how to support Girls Build LA and its important work, please contact our associate director of development, Mia Henley, at



Girls Build LA is grateful for the generous support of our partners and sponsors:

Honorary Chairs

Taraji P. Hensen

Honorable Sheila Kuehl

Janelle Monae

Octavia Spencer

Honorable Mark Ridley-Thomas

Pharrell Williams


Wallis Annenberg

Marina Berti & Stephen Prough

Louise & John Bryson

Megan & Peter Chernin

Jami Gertz & Tony Ressler

Kathleen Kennedy & Frank Marshall

Kathy & John Kissick

Katie McGrath & J.J. Abrams

Jill & Brian McNamee

Niki C. & C. L. Max Nikias

Dr. Cheryl & Haim Saban

Stacey Snider & Gary Jones

Cindy & Sheldon Stone



20th Century Fox

The Annenberg Foundation

The Cheryl Saban Self Worth Foundation for Women and Girls

The Empowerment Congress

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors



Bain Capital


Giancarla Berti

The Chernin Group

Susanna Felleman & Erik Feig

Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Ghada & Ray Irani

Honorable Sheila Kuehl

Robin Kurtzman

Novo Foundation

SPONSORS (con’t)


Jenny & Chris Brearton

Americo Cascella

Ray Chambers

City National Bank

Kelli & Dean Hallett

Ivan Hindshaw

JP Morgan Chase

Meredith & David Kaplan

Karsh Family Foundation

Latham Watkins

The Los Angeles Clippers Foundation

Mayer Brown

Michael Nohaile

Rosenthal Foundation

David & Karen Sachs


Irving Stern

Alison & Nick Temple


Frank Baxter

Liz Berman

Seth Brufsky

Stephanie Christie

Content Partners, LLC.

Matt Cwiertina

David Geffen


Johnny Carson Foundation

John Leupp

Elizabeth Mann

Christopher Meledandri

Jeff Moore


Office of Curren Price, Jr.

Stuart Foundation

Union Bank


USC Office of the Provost

William Morris Endeavor


The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

Honorable Michael D. Antonovich (ret.)

Honorable Kathryn Barger

Honorable Janice Hahn

Honorable Don Knabe (ret.)

Honorable Sheila Kuehl

Honorable Mark Ridley-Thomas

Honorable Hilda L. Solis


The Los Angeles Unified School District Board

Honorable Mónica García

Honorable George McKenna

Honorable Mónica Ratliff

Honorable Ref Rodriguez

Honorable Scott Schmerelson

Honorable Richard Vladovic

Honorable Steve Zimmer

Los Angeles County Office of Education Board Members

Douglas R. Boyd, Sr.

Alex Johnson

Katie Braude

Gabriella Holt

Monte E. Perez, Ph.D.

Thomas A. Saenz

Rebecca J. Turrentine, Ed.D.

The Los Angeles City Council

Honorable Bob Blumenfield

Honorable Mike Bonin

Honorable Joe Buscaino

Honorable Gilbert Cedillo

Honorable Mitchell Englander

Honorable Marqueece Harris-Dawson

Honorable Jóse Huizar

Honorable Paul Koretz

Honorable Paul Krekorian

Honorable Nury Martinez

Honorable Mitch O’Farrell

Honorable Curren D. Price, Jr.

Honorable David E. Ryu

Honorable Herb J. Wesson, Jr.