You’re likely familiar with the dismal statistics. I’ll boil it down- there are 26 million science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related jobs in the U.S. today. This number is only going up – an enormous opportunity for our youth today. However, only 16% of American students graduating from high school are proficient in math and interested in STEM related careers.
The good news is a growing number of youth organizations are working hard to spark a passion for STEM and digital literacy. Dell is thrilled to help these organizations achieve their goal by issuing 2015 Youth Learning grants to 27 U.S. programs and 35 international partners that we feel are leading the charge to engage underserved populations with the skills they need to succeed in a tech-centric culture and workforce.
Michael Dell volunteering at Girlstart – Summer 2015.
One fantastic Dell partner making a significant impact is Girlstart. Founded in Austin, Texas in 1997, Girlstart’s mission is to empower girls in STEM. Everything about Girlstart’s headquarters screams girl power- from the neon walls, computers stickered in flowers, even a specially compiled “girl-power” playlist to get the mood just right. Tamara Hudgins, Executive Director of Girlstart, describes it best, “Girlstart is designed for every girl. We’re not for the geeks. Our programs are designed for all girls especially those who don’t know they love STEM yet.”
The formula is working. Eighty percent of the girls involved in Girlstart’s Project IT Girls program go on to a four year university and 80 percent pursue STEM majors. And best of all, Hudgins is seeing Girlstart’s demand continue to grow. “Our summer program had double-digit waitlists every week. We’ve got to expand!”
Engaging youth with technology is an area of enormous passion for Dell team members. This summer, Michael Dell and his executive team spent an evening with Girlstart working on Makey Makey projects and helping advise on their growth strategy. For Doug Hillary, Vice President of Global Sales Operations, Board Member for Girlstart and father of three girls, this topic is personal.
“Throughout my career at Dell, I’ve worked for some fantastic female leaders,” Hillary said. “Our industry needs to continue to invest and support STEM programs like Girlstart to develop future talent and increase diversity in our workforce. Engaging girls early will create even more opportunities for future female leaders.”
Through strategic giving, Dell has helped 1.4 million underserved youth gain access to technology and education, almost half way to our goal of benefiting 3 million by 2020. You can learn more about all our fantastic global partners here.