Girl Guide to Empowerment, STEM & Entrepreneurialism: Camps & More!

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My sister-in-law is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of a large technology company. This is quite the accomplishment considering women represent only NINE PERCENT of senior IT roles such as CTO, CIO, or vice presidents of technology. We can even this out, ladies! Here are some thoughts and opportunities (camps & organizations) for our women-to-be to become more empowered, to get into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) and to turn those awesome ideas that they have into real businesses. Plus, there are volunteer opportunities whereby you and your teens can serve as role models, mentors, camp counselors or possibly a college intern.

See it. Do It. Become It. Let’s start with you.

I believe that when we show our children our awesomeness, the reality of their potential becomes attainable. Here are a few of ways that you can show them the way.

  • Listen and Read Empowering Thoughts. Share stories of women doing incredible things with your girls and boys whenever you hear them. Good books. Viral threads. Or, subscribe to On The Dot (for FREE) to get a quick (less than 4 minute) story your inbox every morning about relatable women who are doing amazing things all over the world. You can click on the link and listen to the story of the day as your kids have their morning smoothie and you have your warm drink. Off to an inspired day!
  • Keep your cup full (or at least 3/4). If your cup is empty, you will have nothing to offer when those kiddos need you. Support yourself. Go for a run. Ask for help. Re-center and carry on! There are plenty of meet-ups that support Mamadom such as the Austin Moms Blog Neighborhood Groups, Austin Mom’s Fulfilling Purpose and many more! And, there is always ladies’ night. . .
  • Join a group that empowers YOU to reach your goals. As On the Dot notes: Empowered Women, Empower Women. I recently joined the Society of Women Entrepreneurs, which is a group of women oozing with generosity of strength, power, ambition, and kindness. The members have many interests from photography to selling cookies to healthcare. We all share one thing in common – entrepreneurialism. Maybe I’ll see you at the next meeting!
  • Join forces with others that are empowering girls. The Texas Girls Collaborative Project (TxGCP) connects organizations and individuals across Texas committed to informing and motivating girls to pursue careers in STEM. Led by the Women in Engineering Program (WEP) at The University of Texas at Austin, the TxGCP brings together Leadership Team and Champions Board leaders from non-profits, K-12 schools, higher education institutions, companies and organizations across the state of Texas. Parents, non-profit leaders and educators are invited to join. [email protected]
  • DONATE! Listed below are many non-profit organizations that are deserving of financial backing to support their work for the benefit of the children and our future!
  • VOLUNTEER! Identify your gift, your talent, your positive energy and then share it! YOU ARE a relatable role model to some girl out there that really needs to see you doing you.
    • Do you want to build up our women-to-be? Girls Empowerment Network could be a great place for your positive energy.
    • $tart-Up! Kid’s Club and The Junior Adventure program is perfect for those of you who want to support budding entrepreneurs. The Junior Adventure E2 (Empowerment and Entrepreneurialism Program is specifically aimed at helping young women realize their future potential.
    • Is science and technology your passion? Girls in Tech and Girl Start would both love your help!
    • Are you interested in helping Hispanic girls succeed? Latinitas would be a great place for you to support these girls explore media and technology. They also have college internship opportunities.
    • If helping girls who are refugees or have had a broken educational experience resonates with you, check out Girl Forward. They are particularly interested in tutors and mentors who identify as immigrants, refugees and/or women of color.

Connecting your child to role models and professionals.

As the summer approaches, I frequently get asked to have prospective physical therapy students shadow me at work. Of course, I am more than willing to talk about a profession that I have loved for the past 17 years and foster the next generation of therapists. One thing that always surprises me is when I have parents of high school or even college students reach out to me for these shadowing opportunities. Mamas – this is not your job. EMPOWER your child to write that email or make that phone call. Sure, we can find out the contact information of the friend of the friend who has our child’s dream job and give them a sample email or encourage them to use their phone to actually make a call. Allowing our entirely capable young women to reach out directly to professionals can let them own the entire journey to THEIR future. Own it! Work it! You’ve got it, girl!

Here are organizations that focus on EMPOWERMENT, ENTREPRENEURIALISM & STEM

Non-profit organizations focusing on EMPOWERMENT

  • Girls for Progress If you ever have a doubt about what you can do to build up the next generation, let Aleena Valdez be your role model. At the ripe age of 12-years-old, this young entrepreneur and philanthropist started a movement to inspire young girls between the ages of 10 and 15 to change the world and do great things in their communities. At the 2017 GFP Conference my daughters, my nieces and I had the opportunity to hear inspirational stories from women who have been through struggles with discrimination, self-image, abuse and financial distress to come out stronger and become the humans, professionals and owners of extremely successful businesses that they were destined to become. My girls and I can’t wait to hear the inspiring speakers at the next conference on April 21, 2018! If the mission of Girls for Progress resonates with you, consider sponsoring this event.
  • The Kindness Campaign (TKC) was started by a rocking (literally, she’s a drummer) mother of two girls, Andra Liemandt. In 2013, she was stunned and heartbroken to learn that a friend’s 12-year-old daughter committed suicide after being bullied at school. While the number of tween and teen suicides has steadily increased over the past five years, she was shocked at the lack of preventative resources for elementary schools to combat this sad reality. In response, Andra created age-appropriate curriculum for children from PK – 5th grade built on the foundation that if we teach children how to first be kind to themselves and then be kind to one another, we can change the peer-to-peer culture in schools and ultimately save lives.
  • Girls Empowerment Network (GEN) was created by 12 Austin Mama Bears in 1996 after they became concerned about worrisome trends in girls’ self-esteem, body image, depression, harassment and interactions with the juvenile justice system. GEN now has empowering conferences for girls and caregivers in Austin and Houston, after-school programs, workshops and camps for girls grades 3-8. Go Mama Bear!
  • Girl Forward is dedicated to supporting girls who are immigrants, refugees and those who are learning English and/or may have interrupted formal educational experiences. A group of inspiring young women in Austin and Chicago established this organization in order to empower this population of girls through mentorship, tutoring and by creating safe spaces where they can learn about themselves and the world around them.

Non-profit organizations focusing on ENTREPRENEURALISM

  • $tart-Up! Kid’s Club. Inspired by her daughter’s experience of selling coffee at a community garage sale, Austinite Amber Wakem created this organization to empower kids from age 5 and up through entrepreneurship. With guidance from small business owners and community entrepreneurs, they help students think through the necessary steps to bring their ideas to life. Start Up! Kid’s Club offers several opportunities, including camps, to take their business to market by challenging students to engage in critical thinking and adapt their business to turn failures into successes.
  • Venture Lab. Dr. Cristal Glangchai from San Antonio is taking this world by storm and bringing our children up with her. She has created free online guides for helping our kids (grades 6-12) move into technology and entrepreneurialism. The courses cover the necessities of entrepreneurialism including play (YAY!), idea generation, marketing, biz models and pitching. If the Wall Street Journal, Today Show, Mashable and TEDx have taken notice, then maybe we should too!

Non-profit organizations focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

  • Girls in Tech is a global non-profit with over 100,000 members worldwide that aims to help women advance their careers in STEM fields and encourage girls & young ladies to pursue STEM education and support budding entrepreneurs. The Austin chapter is led by a group of powerhouse women who want to play a pivotal role in turning today’s young girls into tomorrow’s amazing women by bringing the community’s young girls and women in tech together. Girls In Tech ATX also believes in the power of “better together” and partners closely with many like-minded organizations. Join their Facebook page to connect with this FAB organization, read interesting posts related to the biz world and tech life as well as stay up to date with upcoming events such as Steam-A-Palooza happening in May!
  • Girl Start is on a mission to “increase girls’ interest and engagement in STEM.” BAM! In 2017, they served over 27,000 girls with after school programs, events, conferences and, of course, camps in STEM STEM STEM! Amazingly, 97% of their offerings were free to the girls thanks to donations.
  • Latinitas enables young Latinas to achieve personal and academic success through media and technology outreach thereby addressing the critical state of Latina girls today. While Latina girls ages 12 to 17 are the largest group of minority girls in the country, they are more likely than their non-Hispanic peers to face the four most serious threats to achieving success: depression, pregnancy, substance abuse and becoming a high school drop out. The solution lies in empowering these young Latinas, strengthening their confidence and expanding their opportunities. Latinitas focuses on girls ages 9-18 and provides career exploration, STEM exposure, mentorships, camps, community outreach as well as an opportunity to become published in their online magazine, Latinitas.

Summer Camps focused on EMPOWERMENT, ENTREPRENEURALISM & STEM

Yup! It’s time to make that first deposit on camp. Some of the organizations above have summer camps including Girls Empowerment Network ,$tart-Up! Kid’s Club, and Girl Start. Here are some other camps with a focus on STEM and Empowerment in and around Austin broken down by age. There are also opportunities for kids 13 and up to get involved as a camp counselor.

Camps from preschool on up

School programs can teach elementary kids to code!
  • School Camps. Take a look at what your local school district has to offer and let your child choose which STEM camp to attend. These camps start as young as Pre-K.
  • Thinkery We’ve all been there. Loved it. Did you know that they do camps too? The weeklong camps for Pre-K–5th graders are designed to engage the campers in playful learning experiences and develop critical thinking skills in a collaborative environment. They have camps focusing on robotics, engineering, storytelling and just good ol’ problem solving.
  • St. Edwards Summer STEM Camps are for kids 7-17 and have an amazing amount of STEM options including Fortnite design, robotics, coding, You Tube editing/production, cybersecurity & encryption (seriously?!), Roblox entrepreneur & more!
  • Camp Invention is fueling kids across the nation with confidence to invent and be creative. They will have camps available this summer in Austin for grades K-8. If you have a child that’s entering Grades 7-9, they can become “Counselors in Training” whereby they can learn lots of other great life skills as well.
  • Austin Nature Center. Hopefully, you and your kids have had the opportunity to explore this hidden gem. They are always doing cool things here, and the camps are no exception. Your kids ages 4-12 can dive deep into everything science and nature here. They also have a Counselor in Training program for ages 13-17.
  • Digital Media Academy is a nationwide organization that holds camps at top-notch schools across the nation. The University of Texas fits that bill, and there are loads of techy opportunities including 3D modeling, programming, robotics, game design (including Minecraft!), music production, film and photography. The camps are broken down by age and cater for ages 8 – 17. There is also an option for overnight housing at UT, and they have Made for Girls camps, but not at UT.
  • Mad Science has after-school programs and camps that evoke plenty of “OOOs” and “AHHHs” for kids Pre-K through 5th grade throughout Austin.
  • Camp Balcones Camp Fire at Emma Long Park aims to spark curiosity and prevent summer learning loss by offering STEM-based, hands-on projects and activities for kids ages 6-12 years old. The girls and boys will have the opportunity to explore nature and identify plants and animals as well as have the opportunity for one of the most important aspects of summer – unstructured play.
  • Adventures in STEM at the Science Mill offers a variety of hands-on camps in robotics, engineering, programming, life science and chemistry in Austin, Dripping Springs and Johnson City for kids in grades 3-8. Let these science experts share their expertise!
  • Asian American Resource Center Coding and Animation Camps are for youth ages 5 to 12 and incorporate Asian American Pacific Islander culture into their coding, animation and science camps. There are also volunteer opportunities for teens as junior counselors
  • Squishy Banana Studios Did you know that STEM careers can expand into the entertainment industry? Here’s how and here’s a camp for grades K-12 that teaches start to finish filmmaking for girls and boys. Squishy Banana Studios focuses on independence and growing confidence as they complete each step of the filmmaking process – with a completed short film at the end of each class and camp.
  • Girls with Pens is an organization that empowers children from ages 8 -14 to gain strength and confidence through the power of their words as they write screenplays, novels and other creative writing pieces.

Camps for Middle School and High School Girls in Austin

  • Women Engineers at The University of Texas at Austin ([email protected]) is a program for rising high school senior women interested in exploring how engineering benefits society and impacts the world.
  • Girls Leadership in Physics and Math at UT Austin is only for girls currently in the 8th grade, and there are a few spots left for this summer. Apply quickly! Check out the UT outreach co-ed camps here.  Sadly, most are already full, but the mailing list is available for 2019.
  • Girl Scouts in STEM. Coding, Robotics, STEM, Oh My! I’ve heard lots of great things about these camps designed for middle and high school girls. Is your daughter not a Girl Scout? It costs $25 to join.
  • Kode with Klossy  is a 2-week FREE camp for girls 13-18 aiming to empower girls to learn to code and become leaders in tech. Started in 2014 when founder Karlie Kloss began her own adventure in learning to code, Kode With Klossy hosts girls’ coding summer camps, awards career scholarships to young women developers and helps create a national community changing the role of girls and women in tech.
  • Junior Adventure Camp Start Up is for rising 8th – 12th graders to start up, launch and run a business. There are also programs specifically for young women.
  • Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) offers camps through UT Austin for 9th-12th grade girls and boys in robotics, engineering, and wearables. Quite an opportunity on our doorstep.

Camps for High School Girls outside of Austin

You have to love the opportunities available when you live in a tech capital, but if your daughter wants to carry her adventures in STEM further afield, here are some amazing opportunities. And, some of the camps have partial scholarships.

  • Restoration Ecology Summer Scholars Program at Mount Holyoke, South Hadley, Massachusetts, is a one-week program open to girls who have just completed Grades 9, 10 or 11 and are looking for meaningful ways to engage with the environment. Girls work in small groups to design plans for a wetlands restoration. Typical hands-on tasks include monitoring water quality through chemical and macroinvertebrate sampling, analyzing soil and using field guides and collection techniques to create an herbarium that represents vegetation in an ecosystem
  • MINES: Making Innovations in Engineering & Science, held at Montana Tech in Butte, Montana, is a one-week program open to girls who have just completed Grades 10 or 11 and are interested in science and math. MINES uses hands-on experiments, field trips and lab-based activities to show what it’s like to work in science, technology, engineering and math careers. Much of the program takes place outdoors, with visits to caverns, streams, mountains and geysers. Past projects included launching a rocket, exploring the ecology and geology of Yellowstone National Park and mapping the spread of a disease.
  • Explore Engineering for High School Girls at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia, is a one-week program open to girls who have just completed Grades 9, 10 or 11 and are interested in engineering. Working in teams with engineering faculty and undergraduate engineering students, high-schoolers work on creating and designing projects, from the first brainstorming session to testing and revising prototypes. Past students have designed and built computer-controlled “smart” wearables, automated musical devices, sustainable building materials and a pet bowl that automatically refills.
  • The Forensic Science Camp at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana is a one-week program for girls who have just completed Grades 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11 and are interested in forensic science. Students arrive at a staged crime scene and must gather and analyze evidence to find a suspect. Using biology, chemistry, mathematics and deductive reasoning, campers study fingerprints, footprints, fiber and hair samples and other evidence. The week includes a visit to a crime lab. (Saint Mary’s also has a one-week robotics camp.)
  • Alexa Café at Caltech and other college campuses, holds one-week programs in 10 states for girls ages 10 to 15 who are interested in building their tech skills. Projects might include coding an app for charity, designing a video game, engineering wearable electronics or discovering the secrets of cyber security.
  • NYU GSTEM is an intensive, six-week summer internship and study program in New York City for girls with a high-aptitude for STEM topics. Students live at home but attend seminars and work in internships throughout the NYC area. Participants work along with adult researchers and present a paper to their peers at the end of the program.
  • The Smith Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP) is a four-week program at Smith College in Northhampton, Massachusetts, for young women with high interest in medicine, engineering or science. High school students work on research with Smith faculty and live on campus.
  • The MIT Women’s Technology Program (WTP) is a four-week summer academic and residential experience for rising high school seniors. They explore engineering through hands-on classes, labs and team-based projects and can study electrical engineering and computer science or mechanical engineering. The program is for girls who have excelled in math but have little or no experience in computer science or engineering.
  • Many other universities offer summer STEM programs for girls in HS.

While researching this topic, it has been exciting to see all the opportunities that children have to become empowered and explore entrepreneurialism and STEM. It was also inspiring to see that the Austin organizations were all started by WOMEN.

Please share these opportunities with your friends and comment below about your positive experiences with these organizations (and others that I may have missed) that support Girls’ Empowerment, Entrepreneurialism and involvement in STEM!

My sister-in-law wants some more gals to join her in the C-suite! Why not you?! Why not your daughter?!

 

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