2022 Grants Challenge

Sparking Girls' Creativity in STEM Education

Through a highly rigorous college preparatory curriculum, the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA), the first all-girls public school in LAUSD and the State of California, provides girls with a clear pathway to college in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). GALA seeks to build the arts component of its STEM curriculum to nurture the creative side of its STEM scholars and ultimately create a pipeline of technologically savvy girls entering entertainment and creative arts fields in Southern California.


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?

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

Other:: The GALA campus

located on the campus of Los Angeles High School

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?

Women are underrepresented in STEM fields. This gender gap can be traced to K-12 education. Within LAUSD, an achievement and participation gap between male and female students in STEM subjects exists. For example, only 30% of students taking computer science in California schools are girls. Racial disparities also exist. Although 24% of STEM workers are women, only 4% are women of color. These disparities exist in fields where STEM and the arts intersect as well. In architecture, women make up 17% of the field, where only 11% are a racial minority. Similar disparities are seen in gaming, graphic design, cinematography, and so on. The underfunding of arts education in public schools contributes to the underrepresentation of people of color in creative arts. More than 80% of LAUSD’s students are children of color, and with 80% of students at or below the poverty line, many do not have access to an arts education that would help them compete for jobs in the creative arts industries.

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

Grant funding will address both the overall gender gap in STEM and the more specific lack of representation in the STEM-related creative arts and entertainment fields -- both fields that are high-profile and integral to Los Angeles. First, by supporting GALA's overall operations, the grant will allow GALA to continue its groundbreaking work educating diverse girls in STEM in a public school setting. All-girls models have been shown to be highly effective educational models particularly for girls of color, and they graduate girls interested in STEM majors at a six times higher rate than co-ed schools do. Supporting GALA helps the school feed more girls into the STEM pipeline. Second, this grant will enhance GALA's arts curriculum so that girls can explore the interplay of the creative arts and STEM. Additional funding will create additional sections of architecture and graphic design, and add new classes in music production, game design, and art history. The program will also enable students to use film and video throughout the school as a tool for storytelling and showing mastery in class subjects. Grant funding will also be used to connect the school to graduate students and professionals working in the creative arts and entertainment fields so that GALA can leverage the resources that only Los Angeles can offer. On-campus workshops, mentorships, and internships will expose students to these fields and increase access to the creative arts and entertainment fields.

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

GALA's vision is to provide girls, and particularly girls of color, with a pathway to college in STEM fields. If GALA succeeds, it will increase the number of women working in STEM-related fields in Southern California. Furthermore, if GALA's arts-related program is funded, more girls would be entering the entertainment and creative arts industries. In doing so, GALA would be filling this pipeline with girls from all economic/racial backgrounds, and slowly closing the existing gender/racial gaps. Gender equality in the STEM workplace will help make LA a more equitable and eclectic place to work and live. Research shows that gender diversity produces greater organizational success for the workplaces that embrace it. Paving the pathway for girls from all backgrounds to enter STEM-related creative fields would also bring more perspectives and voices from our city to the workplace, which is necessary if LA is to remain on the cutting edge of entertainment technology and creative arts.

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

GALA can measure the impact of its single-gender STEM-focused curriculum. First, all three of GALA's graduating classes have a a 100% graduation and college acceptance rate, and the percentage of graduates intending to major in STEM fields is at least double the national rate. Second, student success stories are inspiring, and demonstrate the real-life impact that a public school can have on ambitious girls who have an interest in STEM. (We can provide stories on request.) GALA’s creative arts curriculum is not yet as established as its more traditional STEM curriculum, and so GALA does not yet have clear impact measurements. However, as the program grows and the students who enjoyed the arts curriculum graduate, GALA can track who chooses to study creative arts after high school. To assess the impact of its efforts to build relationships with industry professionals, GALA will track the number of events, mentorships, and internships that come about from its efforts.

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

Direct Impact: 700

Indirect Impact: 5,000