Opening Doors for Young Girls - Creating Pathways through STEM
This month, the Avangrid Foundation, in partnership with subsidiary Berkshire Gas Company, announced a second year of funding for the Eureka! program with Girls, Inc. of the Berkshires/Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Eureka!, a research-based, evaluated program designed by the national Girls Inc. organization, reaches girls who may face real challenges with staying in school, and enables them to envision and access STEM-related career development activities and higher education.
A five-year program that starts with rising-8th grade girls, builds confidence and knowledge through exploration of STEM subjects and potential careers with hands-on, immersive experiences year- round. This program, which is of no cost to the participants, inspires girls to think about a future full of possibilities and includes a focus on life skills, healthy behaviors and peer development.
The Girls Inc. Eureka! program launched in July 2018, with an inaugural cohort of 14 girls from four local schools. Over the summer, the girls immersed themselves in a four-week experience, doing research and projects in physics, biology and environmental science with area professors from Berkshire Community College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts on site at Berkshire Community College. The cohort will meet through the 2018-2019 school year and into the summer.
The mission of Girls Inc. is to “inspire girls to be Strong, Smart and Bold, and that’s what Eureka! does.” - Sidney Hamilton, Program Coordinator
Amberlee Garcia, part of the first cohort added:
“I feel like some women may be afraid to get into STEM because they are afraid to face things like sexism or other challenges. It’s a good idea for [Eureka!] to be geared toward girls because it will help them step into the field even if there may be hardships.”
Eureka! was started in 1987 at Brooklyn College and later funded by the National Science Foundation and expanded. In 2010, Girls Inc. was accepted into the Clinton Global Initiative and pledged to expand and update Eureka! A recent study showed that many Eureka! girls go on to college, making up a high percentage of Girls Inc. scholarship recipients each year, and often becoming the first in their families to attend a university.
Avangrid Foundation came to the table with a year-on-year match challenge in early 2017; if the chapter could raise local support for half the needed funding, the Foundation would pick up the tab for the other half for this first pilot. The partnership has helped encourage other funders that have come forward including Hyatt Hotels, General Dynamics, the Josephine & Louise Crane Foundation and the Jewish Women’s Foundation.
The Pittsfield-based program, is the 19th implementation of EUREKA! across the 85 local Girls Inc. organizations that serve 400 cities in the United States and Canada. The chapter plans to expand the program each year with cohorts of up to 20 girls joining the program, with a plan to support up to 100 girls annually in the Eureka! program. A second cohort of Berkshire-area girls, who will be entering 8th grade, will be added to the program in the Summer of 2019.
The pilot investment in the Eureka program recalls the long history of the region as a world-class center of innovation; where grand transformative ideas and inventions helped pave the way for modernization and industrialization, for economic expansion, and for the region’s and the nation’s significant presence in an ever-globalized world. By providing leadership support for the local Eureka! Program, doors can be opened for young women creating pathways for them to ultimately assume leadership roles in a wide variety of STEM fields. Supporting opportunities to learn about all that is possible and available to motivated young women is vitally important to all.
The program also supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals including Quality Education and Decent Work and Economic Growth.
Listen to coverage from WAMC from the 2017 Launch: https://www.wamc.org/post/confidence-and-skill-eureka-program-available-berkshire-girls
Find our press release here