2023 Grants Challenge

STEAM Pathways Out of Poverty

STEAM at New Village Girls Academy means hands-on science classes at the California Science Center, an opportunity to design/build sustainable solutions to community issues, the freedom to create and develop technology skills in a well-equipped makerspace, and the exploration of STEAM careers through mentored internships. With funding to support A-G credit classes at the California Science Center, the young women of New Village will access a pathway to college and well-paying employment, increased household assets, and better health.


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

East LA

South 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?

Women of color are highly underrepresented in the fields of science and technology, creating a barrier to well-paying, in-demand jobs that can lift families out of poverty and improve the long-term wellbeing of families and communities. Access to STEAM learning is not enough to solve the problems created by racism, misogyny and poverty. The girls we serve have histories of school failure, trauma, homelessness, recent immigration, low English fluency, justice and foster care involvement, and significant academic and social-emotional needs require deeply engaging, relevant and culturally competent programming that changes their beliefs about who they are and what they can become. This kind of STEAM education not only opens the door to a new world of possibilities powered by college access, it also creates the skills and determination young women of color can use to challenge the status quo.

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

Our project includes: 1. Weekly science classes (biology, chemistry, space science and engineering) offered in partnership with the California Science Center (CSC), taught by expert instructors in two-hour instructional and laboratory experiences. The bilingual curricula, written for New Village using Next Generation Science Standards, focuses on experiential learning and provides the A-G credits required for admission to the University of California system and other four-year colleges. 2. Our environmental engineering class teaches students about sustainability issues facing city planners and residents in Los Angeles. Students meet with industry professionals, and work in teams to design/build a prototype solution to the issue they are studying. Most recently, students studied food apartheid and designed a hydroponic garden to grow fresh produce on campus for distribution to the larger community. 3. La Fabrica, our on-campus makerspace, provides after-school opportunities for students to employ design thinking skills, and problem solve and collaborate with others while gaining technological competence with tools and technology. 4. STEAM-based internships include career training opportunities in healthcare fields, a STEAM team internship to expand students' skills in coding, design and prototype building for competition with other high school students in the Los Angeles region. Grant funding will help cover a variety of expenses for our STEAM program during 2023-24.

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

Los Angeles schools, including New Village, are facing a new post-pandemic issue - lower enrollment and attendance, especially at schools serving disadvantaged neighborhoods. By continuing to offer the key parts of our STEAM Program and adding new after-school activities for creative design and making (silk screening, ceramics, jewelry casting and more), New Village will be able to attract and support more high-risk girls of color to complete their high school education. More young women of color engaging in STEAM learning and A-G credit completion means greater college access, higher rates of entry into STEAM fields of study, and greater representation in STEAM jobs. Ultimately, our work will help lift young women of color and their families out of poverty, improve the educational outcomes for the next generation of youth, and improve social and economic wellbeing and equity for women of color in Los Angeles County.

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

We will measure: 1. Impact through student engagement. In 2021-22, more than 74% of students successfully completed at least one science or engineering class, and at least 60% of students participated in activities in the makerspace. 2. Outcomes through our senior class graduation rate and A-G credit completion. Our 2022 senior class graduation rate was 100%, with all graduates having completed the A-G requirements for four-year colleges (except exempt students). 3. College enrollment and the percentage of graduates who chose a STEAM major. In the Class of 2022, 83% of graduates planned to continue to a four- or two-year college, and more than 40% chose a STEAM-based major. 4. Public recognition. Our environmental engineering students received two certificates of Special Congressional Recognition for Female Student-Innovators: Tiny Home Village (Mike Garcia, CA-25) and Hydroponic Garden (Jimmy Gomez, CA-34. 5. Fresh produce distributed to the community (goal = one ton).

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

Direct Impact: 90

Indirect Impact: 500