Collaboration Empowers Girls to Look at STEM in a Fresh new way

A new collaboration has set out to change the way girls look at STEM. The Women’s Leadership Council of the Capital Area United Way recently awarded a $26,000 grant to the new partnership between Information Technology Empowerment Center (ITEC) and the Michigan Council for Women in Technology (MCWT) in support of their innovative “girls only” STEM program called 2020 Girls.

“2020 Girls seek to combat the perception that STEM subjects are inherently for males or somehow off-limits to women and girls,” says Kirk Riley, ITEC’s Executive Director. “We’re introducing them to instructors with whom they can identify and activities that capture their imagination.”

feature CollaborationEmpowers2Riley had the vision for 2020 Girls and reached out to MCWT. ITEC has been providing educational programs to at-risk youth in the Lansing area since 2008, and knew that with their focus on empowering girls and women, MCWT would be a great fit for this program.

“We wanted to let girls know it can be cool to go into IT, to enable their passion for the technology industry,” said Maria Jasinski, vice president of IT for Michigan Millers Mutual Insurance and an active board member of Michigan Council of Women in Technology.

Based in southeast Michigan, MCWT is a progressive organization that inspires and supports women as they enter, advance and contribute to Michigan’s technology community. MCWT will help ITEC develop curriculum for 2020 Girls while also providing women business leaders as mentors for the girls.

“MCWT will gain more exposure in the mid-Michigan area and the community through the partnership with ITEC and the 2020 Girls program,” said Jasinski. “We hope that the additional exposure will lead to an increase in membership and corporate partnerships to bring more of our programs to mid-Michigan schools and students.”

ITEC and MCWT will host the 2020 Girls clubs at schools in the Lansing School District. Pilot classes are set to begin in February.

feature CollaborationEmpowers1Approximately 100 students will participate in programming, engineering and design activities led by female instructors from ITEC. They will also take field trips to local sites where STEM is a part of daily operations and build relationships with mentors.

A two-year student achievement grant, 2020 Girls can expect an additional award of $26,000 pending a successful outcomes report.

“We are seeking funding to expand this program all over Lansing and across the state,” said Riley. “Our hope is to bring on other organizations with the same goals of empowering young women to participate in the jobs of the future, by becoming strong in science, math and technology.”

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