BY Heather Sheldon
Los Angeles, CA, June 04, 2014 — Sixty students of the EmpowHer Institute participated in a UCLA hosted event designed to expose middle-school girls to career opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) on Tuesday, May 28, 2014. The event was captured on CBS Los Angeles STEM Video. The girls who took part are all students at Environmental Charter Middle Schools, located in the underserved communities of Gardena and Inglewood. Environmental Charter Schools currently offer the EmpowHer program.
AWiSE – Advancing Women in Science and Engineering, along with UCLA Brain Research Institute and EmpowHer Institute sponsored the event with the goal of inspiring young girls to graduate high school and attend college in the pursuit of achieving self-sustaining careers in STEM-based fields. The day featured twenty-one interactive informational stations operated by UCLA graduate students, who demonstrated concepts in human brain research, computer science, nanoscience, physics, environmental science and other STEM-related disciplines.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, men represent 76 percent of the total STEM jobs compared to 24 percent of women. Even though more women attend and graduate college, as well as attend post-college programs compared to their male counterparts. The report shows that women remain significantly underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math – both in jobs and degrees.
“EmpowHer is looking to change this stark contrast to these trends. Our girls, who are 7th and 8th graders from low-income, underserved communities in Los Angeles, had an amazing time discovering careers in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Betty LaMarr, EmpowHer Institute Founder and CEO. “They received hands-on exposure that included launching a rocket and dissecting a human brain.” Ms. LaMarr concluded, “Partnering with UCLA is demonstrative of the work we are doing with our girls in expanding their minds and experiences, which we hope leads to productive lives.”
The EmpowHer curriculum is a comprehensive program that focuses on developing the girls’ emotional well-being by building their self-awareness and self-confidence. This foundation is vital to their development and necessary to obtaining the skills they will need to graduate high school, go onto college and achieve a self-sustaining career in their chosen fields.
“You always hear about the men of science,” said Grace Velasco, a 7th grader from the Inglewood campus of Environmental Charter Middle School who attended STEMDAY. “I want to be the woman of science.”
In addition to EmpowHer and UCLA’s efforts, the Reginald Van Lee Foundation generously donated $25,000 to continue their support of our STEM programs. These initiatives are vital to the development of underprivileged young women.
EmpowHer Institute is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization whose mission is to empower girls and young women by helping them gain the skills necessary through education, training and mentorship to seek fulfilling and productive lives. The goal is to reduce the high school dropout rate for low-income middle and high school girls who are at risk of educational failure due to teen pregnancy, truancy, and juvenile delinquency. The strategy is to provide sisterhood, relevant training, choice in decision-making, and to demonstrate resiliency as a means to overcome poverty and meaningfully serve their communities. To learn about future events and opportunities to volunteer or donate, please call 310.574.9181 or visit www.empowher.org.
About Environmental Charter Schools
Environmental Charter Schools (ECS) is a network of free public schools in underserved communities of South Los Angeles. It prepares students for four-year colleges through a unique program that focuses on experiential learning and uses the environment as a way to both engage students and prepare them to become leaders in their communities. The neighborhoods served by ECS have crime rates that are twice that of the national average, low levels of educational attainment, and high levels of poverty. Even so, 98% of ECS High School graduates complete the coursework necessary for admission to a four-year college or university compared to 35% statewide. For more information, visit https://www.ecsonline.org.