The STEM Next Opportunity Fund recently announced a multi-year grant to Vermont Afterschool as part of the Million Girls Moonshot. The Intel Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation have joined STEM Next Opportunity Fund and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to launch the Million Girls Moonshot. The effort is designed to engage one million school-age girls in the United States in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning opportunities over the next five years. The organizations will provide grant funding and in-kind resources to Mott-funded afterschool networks in all 50 states to increase access to hands-on, immersive STEM learning experiences. The first year Vermont grant, awarded in 2020, is for $55,000.
Vermont Afterschool plans to use the funds to launch the new “Linking Engineering to Life” project as part of the Million Girls Moonshot initiative in an effort to help afterschool and out-of-school time programs in the state provide STEM education. Linking Engineering to Life will be led by afterschool programs either virtually or in-person with the goal of engaging middle school girls and non-binary youth in engineering projects; creating a network of afterschool professionals focused on equity and access to STEM; and broadening career horizons for youth involved.
“The Million Girls Moonshot provides an extraordinary opportunity for afterschool programs in Vermont to make an enormous impact on the lives of all our youth, and particularly our girls,” said Vermont Afterschool Executive Director Holly Morehouse. “The future economy of our state and our nation will rely heavily on the STEM fields, and afterschool programs are uniquely situated to help prepare our youth for those career opportunities. We’re deeply appreciative of the work of STEM Next, the Intel Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for their generous support, now and over the years.”
“The Million Girls Moonshot harnesses the spirit of innovation — in philanthropy and in afterschool programming — to reimagine our nation’s next generation of engineers, problem-solvers, builders and makers,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation. “We’re delighted that the Intel and Moore Foundations will join us in an effort to promote gender equity by empowering girls through STEM learning opportunities.”
Just as the original moonshots of the 1960s and ’70s united the nation behind a common goal and dramatically advanced scientific achievement, the Million Girls Moonshot aims to create a national movement to change the trajectory of women and girls in STEM. Led by STEM Next Opportunity Fund, the Million Girls Moonshot will tap a range of funding and programmatic partners, including NASA, Qualcomm, Technovation, STEMconnector, National Girls Collaborative Project, Jobs For The Future (JFF), Techbridge Girls and Lyda Hill Philanthropies.
“Every girl deserves access to high-quality education to achieve their dream career, regardless of their ZIP code or family’s socioeconomic status,” said Gabriela A. Gonzalez, deputy director, Intel Foundation. “The powerful synergies from collaborating with other organizations who share these values achieve a larger collective social impact to advance gender equity and parity in STEM fields, and more important, elevate girls’ future prospects for a better quality of life. Equipping youth with emerging technology skills in Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, and Internet of Things is also critical for an inclusive and diverse future workforce. By joining this movement, we are expanding, scaling and sustaining the spirit of Intel’s She Will Connect signature initiative, which is something that no sole organization can do alone.”
To support programs as they pivot to meet students’ needs during the pandemic, the Million Girls Moonshot is providing Vermont Afterschool other state afterschool networks with technical assistance, educational resources, access to Intel’s She Will Connect partners and mentorship from STEM experts including Intel employee volunteers.
Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but are vastly underrepresented in STEM fields, comprising just 16% of engineers, for example. Black and Latina women have even less representation, at approximately 2% each. With economic projections pointing to a need for 1 million more STEM professionals than the country will produce at its current rate over the next decade, engaging and keeping more girls in STEM pursuits will be critically important for solving our nation’s most pressing challenges.
Over the past several decades, afterschool and other out-of-school-time programs have developed expertise in providing the kind of immersive, hands-on learning experiences that are critical to helping students gain fluency in STEM subjects. This school year, the opportunity is even greater as students and families face many more hours outside of the traditional classroom. From running STEM activities virtually and distributing STEM kits to students, to offering small group, in-person activities on remote school days and during traditional afterschool hours, afterschool programs have stepped up to keep students engaged and learning. The potential for impact is enormous: The nation’s 100,000 afterschool programs serve more than 10 million young people.
The Million Girls Moonshot leverages more than $300 million in investments made by the Mott Foundation in the past two decades to advance afterschool programs and systems, including the development of afterschool networks in all 50 states, as well as Mizzen by Mott, an app that provides afterschool educators free access to high-quality content. Through consistent, equity-focused STEM programming and mentorship that engages girls throughout their youth, the Million Girls Moonshot will help weave together opportunities, ensuring that girls are inspired and supported to continue pursuing STEM in high school and beyond.
Learn more at MillionGirlsMoonshot.org.