2023 Grants Challenge

WhizGirls Academy

Our goal at WhizGirls Academy is to serve and train all students in Los Angeles and to host teacher trainings (to train the trainer) and license our WGA curriculum within the next year. We are in a growth period where we have done our pilot programs and found great success. Every student that has come through our WhizGirls Academy program to date has stated that they want to get into STEAM careers (engineers, coders, game designers/developers, interested in starting tech startups, etc). We are building a strong ecosystem of tech innovators too.


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

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA

West LA

South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

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?

WGA started as a need from parents and the White House, it became a massive endeavor that I am super proud to say that I started. And that I got to give back and create equity for women/ girls & inner city kids along with empowering them to live full lives filled with hope, joy, and connection. Everyday I ask what can I do to serve, and slowly but surely I started out in one small community. But as time goes on and we learn through our WhizGirls Academy programs: how to code, how to take care of their bodies through meditation and mindfulness, healthy eating, entrepreneurship, how to work in teams (girl/boys) together, presenting to industry investors, etc. Students will learn how to live healthy balanced tech lifestyles while creating amazing careers for themselves in the tech space. Some will even go on to become entrepreneurs to make a difference as well. And some will decide to join our team as we make a larger impact worldwide. I feel super blessed to live this life of service.

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

The core tech in our progam is the proprietary original IP WhizGirls project based learning coding: HTML/CSS/ Javascript, UI/UX. And we also use the ArcGIS platform with esri our main tech/data/mapping partner. We initially were teaching Unity game design and development but now are planning to add Unreal engine as well. We have also been researching AI, AR/VR/XR dev, Robotics, and other potential tech career pathways to build out our additional curriculum. At WhizGirls Academy we envision a more prepared diverse and equitable tech workforce that draws from every community in LA, eventually nationwide, and then all over the world. In order to keep up with the demand for tech talent, we are always exploring new ways of collaboration, to continue our deep engagement in the community, providing insights to the tech industry and educational institutions, and creating online opportunities so that students can compete in the fast paced tech industry. This grant will help us scale to train teachers across LA County. Ideally we can provide the trainings at minimal cost as the grant should cover the major costs. And we would also like to expand to special needs students across the K-12 spectrum. Core modules at WhizGirls Academy include: project based learning, gamification, tech and digital literacy, career awareness/outreach/pathways, mentorship, leadership, team building, presentation skills, critical thinking, creative expression, mindfulness, and entrepreneurship.

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

Shirin was recognized as an innovative tech leader and Pioneer woman by former Mayor Garcetti. WhizGirls Academy is the only tech lifestyle program to promote healthy eating, mindfulness/meditation, entrepreneurship, and balanced healthy lifestyle program based on a lifestyle tech brand and original IP. This started because of the void in the space for inner city kids and girls and the need from parents. WhizGirls Academy has created an integrated learning environment that is fully engaging and adaptive with the real-time opportunities and potential of students, tech entrepreneurs, businesses and communities. We incubate and accelerate the growth of human, social and intellectual capital to drive individualized learning, innovation and ambition. We recognize that learning is a multi-disciplinary, holistic experience that should be centered around each individual's process of self-discovery, identification, exploration and creation. Our teacher trainings will help us scale in LA 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?

The effectiveness of the WhizGirls Academy program has been measured by pre-surveys and post-surveys. Evaluation results help us: Monitor students' knowledge and skills as they progress through the program. Tailor our programming to fit the needs of specific students. Keep in touch with alumnae as they enter high school, college, and the workforce. After the students complete the WhizGirls Academy sessions, we have seen a lot of interest in tech/computer STEAM careers. The older children have gone on to create apps, work as interns at tech companies, and want to expand their futures to include technology/coding/entrepreneurship/gaming, etc. In the same way we leverage technology to connect students we also provide mechanisms and accessible in-person opportunities for facilitating ongoing active discussions between parents, professionals, and community members. By combining these methods with data and feedback from students, we can drive immediately actionable decision-making.

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

Direct Impact: 300

Indirect Impact: 5,000