2022 Grants Challenge

E-STEAM Programs

EmpowHer Institute will examine the use of STEAM as a catalyst to address social justice issues impacting marginalized communities of color through weekly in- and out-of-school classes and Social Justice STEAM Summer Camp for BIPOC girls in grades 7-12 grades. Students will lead and design projects that explore social justice issues such as climate change, the war on drugs, racism, sexism, and homophobia have on marginalized communities, and offer STEAM-based solutions to address these issues and create systemic change.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

South LA

South Bay

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

The STEAM workforce is crucial to America’s innovative capacity and global competitiveness. Yet women are vastly underrepresented in STEAM jobs and degree holders, despite making up nearly half of the US and the college-educated workforce. Although women fill close to half of all US jobs, they hold less than 28% of STEAM jobs. Of that, 9% are Black, 8% are Latino/Hispanic, 13% are AsiaPI, and 3% are other or mixed race. Since 2016, Latino/Hispanic STEAM workers is up 1%, while there has been no change in the share of Black workers. The long-term outlook for diversity in the STEAM workforce is closely tied to representation in the educational system. The world demands a re-alignment capable of resisting a status-quo that has failed to embrace our most vulnerable populations. Our goal is to inspire BIPOC girls' interest in STEAM by exposing them to innovative approaches to utilize STEAM to address social justice issues they care about and directly impact them and their communities.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

EmpowHer provides weekly, in-school curricula designed through an intersectional social justice framework to engage BIPOC girls, grades 7-12 who attend Title I schools in becoming college and career ready. A key initiative to our programming is E-STEAM, which serves 600+ girls annually through the following programs: 1) Monthly group and 1-on-1 mentoring by professional women in STEAM careers. 2) 8-week Social Justice STEAM student led projects, where 100 girls work in self-selected peer groups to identify a social justice issue to study. They then spend two months developing STEAM projects aimed at offering solutions that move the needle forward to solving the issues. The top six teams present to 400 of their peers and a panel of judges for the opportunity to win a cash prize during our annual Girls To Greatness (G2G) Teen Summit, in April. G2G is a day of workshops, mentoring, and celebration aimed at empowering girls to consider college and careers in STEAM. 3) 25 girls are selected to participate in our three-week Social Justice STEAM Summer Camp for grades 7-9. The camp consist of hands-on learning experiences and youth-led student projects exploring ecosystem resilience at local marine habitats and the disproportional impact climate change has on these habitats in comparison and contrast to its impact on marginalized communities. 4) 15 girls in grade 10-12 are selected to participate in a 4-week paid Summer internship in STEAM-based companies.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Short-term impact includes exposing 600 BIPOC girls in Los Angeles County to careers and educational opportunities in STEAM that lead to increased engagement in school and successful matriculation to their next grades and/or college admission. We all expect to engage girls in social justice in an effort to create a more equitable society. Long-term impact includes empowering BIPOC girls to gain the skills and resources necessary to enter the STEAM workforce and discovering solutions to some of LA County's greatest issues that impact marginalized communities. Girls will also utilize the STEAM workforce to break generational cycles of poverty within their homes and communities.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

To measure our girl's progress as well as how effectively we are delivering our programs, our contracted Evaluator administers pre-survey and post-survey instruments, and facilitate individual interviews and focus groups. We gather information relating to interest, knowledge, and experience in STEAM and social justice. Parents and school leaders also provide feedback on their child’s progress, interest, knowledge, and experience. 2021 outcomes are as follows upon program completion: 100% of 8th grade participants matriculated to high school. 100% of 12th grade participants graduated high school and gain acceptance to college. 100% of all participants report that they learned a new skill with EmpowHer. 92% reported feeling supported by their mentor. 86% expressed an interest in STEAM careers. 80% report they feel more confident of their leadership abilities. 80% enrolled in Social Justice STEAM Camp report an increased awareness of social justice issues impacting their lives.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 500

Indirect Impact: 1,000