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.
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!
WHY GIRLS BUILD LA?
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.