Million Girls Moonshot Comes to Minnesota!
State’s Afterschool Network Joins Nationwide Effort to Close the Gender Gap in STEM
September 17, 2020
Tech and philanthropic leaders launch collective impact initiative to work with afterschool programs in Minnesota and nationwide to increase diversity and equity in science, technology, engineering and math
Minneapolis, Minnesota – Sept. 16, 2020 – The STEM Next Opportunity Fund today announced a multi-year grant to Ignite 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 1 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 Minnesota grant, just awarded, is for $20,000.
Ignite Afterschool plans to use the funds to help afterschool programs in the state provide STEM education. Through professional development and coaching, Ignite will support afterschool programs to include STEM in their existing work. Using a STEM justice and race equity framework, Ignite will also support existing STEM afterschool programs to improve the quality of their afterschool programs.
“We’re proud to join the Million Girls Moonshot movement, and plan to use this extraordinary opportunity to address persistent access gaps to STEM opportunities experienced by youth in Minnesota through afterschool programs,” said Ignite Afterschool's Executive Director, Kari Denissen Cunnien. “With scientists across the globe racing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, and students and parents alike relying on computers and the Internet to learn and work, it has never been clearer how vital STEM is to our children’s future. Afterschool programs have a strong track record on STEM, and the Million Girls Moonshot will give them an opportunity to go even deeper. We’re grateful to 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 Ignite Afterschool and 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.