This past fall, Techbridge Girls’ Washington, D.C. program received a much-appreciated first-time grant of $15,000 from STEM for Her, an all-volunteer non-profit organization that provides scholarships and financial support to programs that foster an interest in STEM-related careers among women and girls. What makes their grant special is how it will be used.
“STEM for Her funding will enable us to take the girls on three field trips to federally-funded locations like NASA, NOAA and the Smithsonian,” says Meeta Sharma-Holt, VP of Programs and Strategic Partnerships at Techbridge Girls and formerly Executive Director of the Washington, D.C. program. “These are incredible field trip locations, but because of federal regulations they are not allowed to help us offset any of our costs. The STEM for Her grant fills quite an important need.”
We talked with two STEM for Her board members, Louise Peabody (STEM for Her Director of Programs) and Nanci Schimizzi (STEM for Her Director of Strategic Alliances), to learn more about what influenced their decision to fund Techbridge Girls and what they want their funding to accomplish.
“There is a well-documented shortage of women trained in STEM coming out of college,” says Nanci Schimizzi, a senior management consultant specializing in IT services at Fair Oaks Strategies, LLC. “Middle and high school girls, especially from underserved communities need to see opportunities for STEM careers. Techbridge Girls opens new worlds for girls.”
“What we like about Techbridge Girls is the consistency of their program and that they work from a plan,” states Louise Peabody, Retired Partner-Consultant with Cohn Reznick, an accounting, tax and business advisory firm.
Peabody cites Changing the Game for Girls in STEM, the 2016 white paper published by Techbridge Girls as an example of how the organization successfully tailors the message about STEM and STEM careers to meet the needs of girls, particularly girls of color from low-income households.
“One of our hoped-for outcomes is to see enthusiasm from the girls for pursuing STEM careers. That’s the long-term change we want to achieve,” says Schimizzi.
“Funding this project is the first-step,” adds Peabody.
Both Techbridge Girls and STEM for Her are committed to making an investment both in the girls and in creating a more robust pipeline of young women entering the STEM workforce.
“We’re so grateful to STEM for Her. They are terrific partners, not only by providing a donation, but also helping to think about ways we can strategically advance our mutual agendas,” concludes Sharma-Holt.