A Cambridge-based organization focused on encouraging STEM engagement for girls recently kicked-off a fundraising campaign. The crowdsourcing endeavor, #StemtoShine, aims to raise $5,000 to support one of the organization’s mentorship programs by December.
Science Club for Girls, the organization behind the campaign, guides elementary school girls in STEM field exploration and provides high school students with STEM-based mentorship and internships. Its programs are often staffed by undergraduate and graduate volunteers from Harvard and other Boston-area universities.
If it reaches its $5,000 goal, Science Club for Girls will have its donations augmented by the Gustave G. and Valla Amsterdam Foundation, which has pledged to match the funds at a ratio of 3:1. The resulting $20,000 would cover the full costs of providing stipends for the group's junior mentor program.
The Science Club for Girls junior mentors work side-by-side with the undergraduate students in leading the programs, assisting in teaching kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
“[The Junior Mentor program] grew out of a desire from some of our participants who, as they aged out of our elementary school program, wanted to continue engaging with science club in some way,” said Lonsdale G. Koester, the executive director of SCFG. “They had a particular interest in giving back and playing the role of a mentor, and so we created the program.”
The program provides a “modest stipend” for the junior mentors to cover the costs of transportation involved in volunteering. If successful, the recently-launched campaign will fund these stipends, which range from $55-$110 depending on mentors’ levels of involvement.
Junior mentors often serve as relatable role models for the program’s elementary school participants, bridging the age gap between university science students and children curious about STEM fields.
“My view of it is this: it's hard when you are in kindergarten to look at a professional working scientist, even if she’s 30, because she just seems ancient,” Koester said. “That imaginative leap between kindergarten and a profession is a lot for a girl to take in.”Science Club for Girls' #StemtoShine campaign is housed on a recently-developed crowdfunding platform based in Boston, called Affectly.
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