This has truly been an exciting year at Techbridge! The year’s end offers an opportunity to reflect on the year past and look forward to 2015. Here are Techbridge’s Best Moments of 2014:
1. Techbridge Took Greater Seattle By Storm
This year, with support from the National Science Foundation, Techbridge launched a Seattle office and began delivering our after-school programs outside the Bay Area for the first time in our 15-year history. Our dynamic three-person Seattle team has established programs in elementary and middle schools throughout the Highline School District, and has attracted a wait list of girls eager to join. The team is now preparing to add a high school program in fall 2015, while building a network of Seattle-area role models and funders.
2. Countless Moments of Learning and Inspiration
It’s impossible to choose just one top moment from our work with students this year. How to weigh the joy at hearing a girl on a field trip say, “I want to work here when I grow up!” against the satisfaction of seeing a student’s smile at finally creating a Rube-Goldberg machine that works after countless redesigns? I asked our Program Coordinators to share their favorite moments of 2014 and they recounted memorable field trips at Zynga, Lockheed Martin, Homejoy, Goldieblox, eBay, Samsung, Google and Chevron. Highlights also included classroom visits with role models like Lyn Gomes, Amanda Foo, Consuelo Crosby and Josetta Jones who bring science, engineering, and tech careers alive for our girls, dispelling stereotypes about what kind of people belong in STEM careers just by being their passionate selves.
3. Seeing Yesterday’s Techbridge Girls Become Today’s Role Models
One of the great things about Techbridge being around for 15 years is we get to hear from girls who participated in our programs during their elementary, middle, and high school years, and who have since graduated college and started their careers. Many attribute their interest in studying a STEM discipline to their years spent tinkering in our after-school programs. For example, Emiko Zumbro is one Techbridge alumna who’s chosen a STEM career path. After graduating from Harvard with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Emiko worked as a Systems Engineer for Raytheon in LA and will soon return to Cambridge for a position at MIT Lincoln Laboratories. Emiko shared with us that she “decided to become an engineer after going on a field trip to the Jet Propulsion Lab with Techbridge and hearing a female engineer talk about building the Mars Rover.” In January, Emiko will return to a Techbridge classroom, this time as a role model whose story is sure to inspire the next generation of Techbridge girls.
4. Seeing The After-School and Summer Staff in Our Learning Communities Flourish
In 2014, Techbridge trained more summer and after-school staff in the Bay Area and nationwide than ever before. Through conferences, science learning communities for after-school staff, and trainings for summer educators, we reached nearly 400 out-of-school time staff who have in turn delivered STEM programming to thousands of girls and boys in high-need areas across the country, bringing a love of science to many more students than we could on our own.
5. The Launch of Our Online Toolkit for STEM Role Models
This past May, with support from NSF, Techbridge launched the Role Models Matter Toolkit to strengthen the training available to role models and support the youth outreach efforts of our partners including the Society of Women Engineers. Through this program, Techbridge has reached thousands of women STEM professionals across the country and helped prepare them to serve as effective role models to girls. We also use the toolkit to train the hundreds of role models who inspire our girls through classroom visits and field trips every year.
6. Seeing The STEM-For-Girls Movement Gain Momentum
We are delighted to see the success of Code.org’s “Hour of Code” initiative, which reached over 74 million students in just one week this year. It is just one example of the growing international movement to promote interest in computer science and other STEM fields, especially among girls and other underrepresented communities. NCWIT–the National Center for Women & Information Technology, Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code are other examples of the proliferation of initiatives dedicated to close the gender gap in STEM. At Techbridge, we celebrate them all and partner with many. We’re pleased to see more support for our mission from all corners of the world.
7. Collaborating With Some Awesome Partners from Hollywood to Washington, DC
This year, we partnered with national organizations to share our experience and expertise around girls and STEM. Techbridge and Girl Scouts of the USA worked together to integrate Techbridge STEM curriculum with the “Journeys” Girl Scout leadership curriculum. With funding from the Noyce Foundation, Techbridge designed a STEM curriculum that aligns with three of the Girl Scout “Journeys” (badge-earning) projects and delivered trainings to staff and volunteers at 5 pilot councils across the country. Meanwhile, the National Academy of Sciences’ Science & Entertainment Exchange invited me to LA to help inform the creation of a mentoring program designed to bring more and better STEM into the entertainment industry. And next month, I will travel to DC on the invitation of the White House Council on Women and Girls for a conference on strategies to bring STEM education to underserved girls. Other partners we’ve worked with this year include Million Women Mentors, US2020 and the US Science and Engineering Festival in DC.
8. Seeing the Growth of Our Team
The Techbridge team is now the largest it’s ever been – we are currently 25 staff members, half of whom joined the team this year. As we welcome team members into our fold, we’ve enjoyed getting to know each person’s personality and unique talents (ranging from cartoon drawing to karaoke)! Spending time together volunteering in our neighborhood (pictured at left is our trip to the Alameda County Community Food Bank), engaging in health and wellness activities, hosting special days to honor individual staff members, planning seasonally-themed icebreakers at staff meetings and providing regular professional development are some of the elements that make being a part of the Techbridge team so wonderful. We look forward to adding to our numbers in 2015 with the launch of programs in Washington, DC.
9. Being Recognized by the Community We Serve and Those We Respect
This year, we were honored to receive several awards for our work changing girls’ lives through STEM education, including the Girl Scouts of Northern California Alliance Award, the Alameda County Women’s History Month Trailblazer Award, admittance in the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame, and inclusion on the Fundacion Telefonica’s global list of Top 100 Educational Innovations. We appreciate the support both from near and far – it inspires us to reach new heights!
10. Seeing Your Year-End Donations Arrive Each Day
Major funders like Chevron, Noyce Foundation, the NSF, Lockheed Martin and Oracle provide pivotal support for our work, and we’re honored to receive their support throughout the year. But in December, we get to see this heartwarming groundswell of support from hundreds of hardworking people like ourselves and like you. Each day, a handful of envelopes and online donation notices arrive bearing gifts for $25, $50, $100, $250 or $1,000. Know that we sincerely value every single one of these, no matter the amount. Beyond the crucial funds these gifts provide, each one tells us there are more out there who believe, and this revolution we’re trying to engineer is taking hold. Each gift inspires us to work harder to give girls the opportunities they deserve.
It’s only through the kindness of a generous community of friends and funders that Techbridge has been able to celebrate so many milestones. May you each be blessed by the same generosity you’ve shown to Techbridge girls. Here’s to a wonderful year and to the possibilities that await in 2015!