The Intel Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation have joined STEM Next Opportunity Fund and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to launch the Million Girls Moonshot. The effort is designed to engage one million school-age girls in the U.S. in STEM learning opportunities over the next five years. The organizations will provide grant funding and in-kind resources to Mott-funded afterschool networks in all 50 states to increase access to hands-on, immersive STEM learning experiences.
“When my father, Robert Noyce, and Gordon Moore founded Intel, they built upon the experiences of their youth, where they had opportunities to build, invent, engineer and experiment. These hands-on experiences gave them a sense of initiative, perseverance and a belief that they could create revolutionary new technologies,” said Dr. Penny Noyce, founding board chair, STEM Next Opportunity Fund. “The Million Girls Moonshot will help girls from diverse backgrounds develop this same engineering mindset, and I’m thrilled at the way it continues the legacy of Intel’s founders and their passion for advancing STEM.”
“The Million Girls Moonshot harnesses the spirit of innovation — in philanthropy and in afterschool programming — to reimagine our nation’s next generation of engineers, problem-solvers, builders and makers,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation. “We’re delighted that the Intel and Moore Foundations will join us in an effort to promote gender equity by empowering girls through STEM learning opportunities.”
Just as the original moonshot united the nation behind a common goal and dramatically advanced scientific achievement, the Million Girls Moonshot aims to create a national movement to change the trajectory of women and girls in STEM. Led by STEM Next Opportunity Fund, the Million Girls Moonshot will tap a wide range of funding and programmatic partners, including NASA, Qualcomm Incorporated, Technovation, National Girls Collaborative Project, CSforALL, JFF, Techbridge Girls and If/Then, an initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies.
“Every girl deserves access to high-quality education to achieve their dream career, regardless of their ZIP code or family’s socioeconomic status,” said Gabriela A. Gonzalez, deputy director, Intel Foundation. “The powerful synergies from collaborating with other organizations who share these values achieve a larger collective social impact to advance gender equity and parity in STEM fields, and more important, elevate girls’ future prospects for a better quality of life. Equipping youth with emerging technology skills in Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, and Internet of Things is also critical for an inclusive and diverse future workforce. By joining this movement, we are expanding, scaling and sustaining the spirit of Intel’s She Will Connect signature initiative, which is something that no sole organization can do alone.”
Closing the Gender Gap in STEM is Critical for Our Nation’s Future
Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but are vastly underrepresented in STEM fields, comprising just 16 percent of engineers, for example. Black and Latina women have even less representation, at approximately two percent each. With economic projections pointing to a need for one million more STEM professionals than the country will produce at its current rate over the next decade, engaging and keeping more girls in STEM pursuits will be critically important for solving our nation’s most pressing challenges.
“We’re happy to be inaugural partners in the Million Girls Moonshot and its all-hands-on-deck effort to break down the systemic barriers that exist for girls in STEM,” said Janet Coffey, Ph.D., program director, Science, for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. “This generation of young people will be the COVID-19 generation. By fostering an engineering mindset and a spirit of scientific exploration, curiosity, and discovery, we can empower them to build a better world.”
Afterschool Programs are Important for Engaging, Keeping Girls in STEM
Over the past several decades, afterschool and out-of-school programs have developed expertise in providing the kind of immersive, hands-on learning experiences that are critical to helping students gain fluency in STEM subjects. This school year, the opportunity is even greater as students and families face many more hours outside of the traditional classroom. From running STEM activities virtually and distributing STEM kits to students, to offering small-group, in-person services on remote school days and during traditional afterschool hours, afterschool programs have stepped up to keep students engaged and learning. The potential for impact is enormous: The nation’s 100,000 afterschool programs serve more than 10 million young people.
To support programs as they pivot to meet students’ needs, the Million Girls Moonshot will provide afterschool networks with technical assistance, educational resources, access to Intel’s She Will Connect partners and mentorship from STEM experts, including Intel employee volunteers. The initiative leverages more than $300 million in investments made by the Mott Foundation in the past two decades to advance afterschool programs and systems, including the development of afterschool networks in all 50 states, as well as Mizzen by Mott, an app that provides afterschool educators free access to high-quality content. Through consistent, equity-focused STEM programming and mentorship that engages girls throughout their youth, the Million Girls Moonshot will help weave together opportunities, ensuring that girls are inspired and supported to continue pursuing STEM in high school and beyond.