The community of Southwest DC has seen many answers to the question of how to revitalize the neighborhood in recent years, such as the development of new dining, shopping and residential options. One Southwest-based nonprofit, Techbridge Girls-DC, believes that communities also thrive in the long-term when we invest in the development of our youth, particularly via science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). STEM workers command higher wages, earning 29 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts. In addition to higher earnings, STEM skills and careers are in higher demand. Nearly 80 percent of all new jobs created nationwide over the next decade will require STEM skills. STEM careers provide a pathway towards economic mobility, especially for girls from low-income communities.

This is why, since 2015, Techbridge Girls-DC has reached hundreds of girls in Title I schools in DC with afterschool STEM enrichment. Each week the 200+ girls in our programs across the city experience hands-on STEM activities that allow them to practice leadership, teamwork and other skills, in addition to building the confidence to see themselves as STEM professionals one day.

For multiple school years, we have held weekly programs at both Amidon-Bowen Elementary School and Jefferson Academy here in Southwest. Girls experiencing the continuum of STEM education as they grow up with us are being well prepared for bright futures that will allow them to enrich the communities they come from. As we celebrate our fourth school year in DC, we’re so glad to already be able to see the impact of our feeder patterns from elementary to middle school. Makayla of Jefferson Academy is one girl who is experiencing seamless afterschool STEM programming as she grows up with us—and is loving it. Last year she was a student in our Inspire program at Amidon-Bowen Elementary, and now that she’s in our ChangeMakers program at Jefferson, she tells us that she continues to be enthralled with the hands-on computer science she gets to practice in Techbridge.

Our annual Showcase, where our families, community partners, volunteers and school staff celebrate our Community Impact Projects and learn ways to encourage girls along the path to STEM careers, will happen in May at the University of the District of Columbia. For those who are interested in supporting Techbridge Girls-DC in our mission of giving girls the opportunity for economic empowerment through a STEM career path, it is possible to become a sponsor of our programs including our Showcase at techbridgegirls.org/donate. Other opportunities to join forces with Techbridge Girls-DC include becoming a classroom role model, field trip host or Regional Advisory Council member. Contact dc@techbridgegirls.org or 303-656-6420 for more information about being involved.

By Chantal James, Program Coordinator, Techbridge Girls-DC

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