2022 Grants Challenge

Girl Power Biz Camp "Tech for Good"

Girl Power Biz Camp "Tech for Good" is an interactive bootcamp teaching teen girls how to build technology for good. High school girls identify social and civic challenges in their local or global community and work in teams to develop tech driven solutions. Students brainstorm and create concepts, conduct research and interviews, design and develop strategies, create presentations to present. Topics can include but are not limited to; gender equality, bullying, health, education, violence and safety, human rights and the environment.


Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

Microsoft located in Playa Vista, Los Angeles

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?

Central LA

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 importance of STEM education is recognized by educators and policy makers alike. Education policy and funding at federal and state levels seek to increase the availability of quality K-12 STEM education that effectively prepares students for the 21st century workforce. However, many gaps and inequalities hamper this effort: poorly resourced schools in low-income areas struggle to provide even basic STEM education; women and people of color remain underrepresented in STEM fields; the digital divide persists; and girls tend to lose interest in STEM subjects and careers as adolescents. A 2018 Pew Research Center study found that most Americans felt that STEM education in K-12 public schools is average compared to other developed nations. Some 53% attributed this to teachers not emphasizing the practical use of STEM subjects; some 49% believed that teachers rarely used methods to help students think critically and problem solve.

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

We provide participants with the tools and insights on how to make an impact as they learn to develop and use technology as a tool for good. The program is geared toward project-based learning, where students are given a real-world problem on which they have to work collaboratively, using an interdisciplinary approach. This requires not only use of hard skills (i.e. product development and management, user design, research, marketing, etc.) but also soft skills (i.e. communication, teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking and the like) and connecting the dots between multiple subjects. Our mantra is “STEM is everywhere” and reaches across all job sectors and industries. The “B” in “B~STEM” stands for business. Our programs are built on the precepts of business and technology. This causes students to think from ideation through development cultivating skills that they otherwise would not have gained. We take students out of their classrooms and neighborhoods, and into workplaces so that they can visualize a future as a professional. We also provide students with guidance and mentoring from professionals to whom they ultimately present their project and receive real-time feedback and assessment.

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

The program hosted by Microsoft Playa Vista will expand the ambitions, skills and networks of underserved students, ultimately preparing and positioning them for the 21st century workforce. At a macro level, this helps fulfill the urgent need for diverse talent in STEM-related fields and expand equity in both education and the labor market. Gaps related to STEM education are most acutely felt in poorly resourced public schools and underserved communities, and girls often fall the farthest behind. Moreover, the school closures and transition to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic have hit poorly resourced schools and low-income children the hardest, amplifying existing disparities. Many students do not have their own computers, reliable internet access or a conducive place to participate in online classes. Private schools, well-resourced public schools and wealthier families are able to invest in STEM-related programs that open an array of educational and career opportunities.

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

B-STEM consolidates its programmatic core (combining business and STEM across industries in a creative and empowering way), in partnership with leading companies across LA county. Our programs focus on exposure, creating awareness and providing unique experiences. All students need to experience the world of work, particularly work of the future, long before they leave school. B~STEM connects the world of learning to work through our project-based learning experiences. Schools alone cannot be expected to foster the complex combinations of STEM, digital and transferable skills, like collaboration, problem solving and communication, that students will need in their future careers. That’s in addition to core skills like literacy and numeracy. Bringing together the classroom and the workplace has broad public benefits, but can be challenging to do in practice. Program impact is measured by pre and post program assessments, peer collaboration, mentor engagement, and project completion.

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

Direct Impact: 150

Indirect Impact: 1,000

Describe the specific role of the partner organization(s) in the project, program, or initiative.

The Girl Power Biz Camp "Tech for Good" program will be in collaboration with and hosted by Microsoft at their Playa Vista Office. The partnership will also include employee engagement as project team mentors, marketing, social media, etc.