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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Science Club for Girls

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Adult & Child Matching Programs, Children & Youth, Girls Clubs

Mission: Science Club for Girls increases the confidence and literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) of K-12th grade girls belonging to groups that are underrepresented in these fields, through free programs that include hands-on learning, mentorship, and leadership opportunities. Girls work with mentor-scientists who model and foster leadership, affirm college as an expectation, and promote careers in science and technology as goals and options. In other words, we create an environment where girls have fun doing science and engineering, connecting with female mentors in those fields, and give older girls a chance to grow as guides and leaders! P.S. We were voted the 2009 Nonprofit of the Year by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.

Results: We have a 80% return rate for girls in elementary school, and a 65% return rate for girls in middle and high schools. These girls vote with their feet! Each year, we place between 2-5 high school students in internship positions at our corporate/university partner sites. In the past 4 years, all 19 of the high school girls who graduated from our program entered a two- or four-year college. 8 of them are in science- or engineering-related majors. Our enrollment has increased by about 20% each year the last 3 years.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 800+ participate in semester-long or vacation week programs

Geographic areas served: Cambridge, Boston, Newton, Lawrence, Brookline

Programs: Science clubs - a total of 65 school-year k-8 science clubs engaged 794 participants at 14 sites in five cities in eastern massachusetts (cambridge, boston, newton, lawrence and fitchburg). Clubs were led by volunteer mentors at a ratio of approximately 1 adult:5 girls each semester. Clubs met for 1-1. 5 hours per week for 8-10 weeks in the fall and spring. Curricula included engineering around the world, body maps, circuits and magnets, sound and light, chemistry and crystals, slime and matter, rescue by design, oceans, and astronomy. A total of 98 mentors from area universities and corporations supported these programs. Approximately 37% have or are earning their masters or doctorate degrees in stem. 4 campus chapters support our programs through volunteer recruitment, and the some club management roles, providing these women with leadership and other development opportunities, so in turn, they can be better role models for our girls and teens. We currently have chapters at northeastern university, harvard university, boston college, and brandeis university.

teen programs - we piloted a new 6-8th grade program, steministas, with 30 students at 2 sites, in preparation for the transition of these grades to the teen program. The steminista program is designed as a project-based, interdisciplinary curriculum that consists of multiple modules over the school year, and allows middle school girls to combine creativity and stem-related problem solving. Girls first go through a series of learning modules that give them foundational stem skills and an understanding of design, and are introduced to ideas such as biomimicry, climate control and feedbacks, and material science. Thereafter, they engage in 2-5 week-long "consulting" projects in different areas of stem, from civil and environmental engineering to astrobiology that are presented as problems by experts. They work in teams to create a solution, product or set of results related to the topic. We continued the research internship program for a second year. Junior and seniors in high school engaged in research projects at harvard university, simmons college, children's hospital and at aurora flight sciences. These and the other young women presented their projects and research at a year-end showcase, and/or the cambridge science festival. 90 and 98 high school girls participated in the fall and spring semesters respectively, in one or more of teen programs. Participants were engaged in our challenge teams: media team (6), rocket team (7), girls with a z: adventures with zebrafish program (20), coup de code game development (5); mobile app development (11) and internship program (6). The remainder were junior mentors who co-taught the science clubs or vacation week programs. 32 mentors, mostly professionals in stem, facilitated these programs. An additional 35 volunteers hosted girls for field trips. 32 mentors, mostly professionals in stem, facilitated these programs. An additional 35 volunteers hosted girls for field trips.

special programs - the summer vacation week program engaged 36 girls from 2nd-6th grades, in topics ranging from zebrafish biology, to green chemistry to ecology. We piloted a 6-week youth leaders in stem program, where teens spent each 20-hour week exposed to a different industry/research area, learning about the fundamental concepts, industry/real-life applications, and going on field trips to meet female professionals to explore careers and life paths. The show me the science event introduced over 30 boston area elementary school girls and their families to our programs through hands-on demos facilitated by area companies.

Community Stories

56 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a scientist. I received my PhD in Neuroscience from Harvard Medical School in 2009. As one of only 4 women in my class I can personally attest to the dearth of women in science. Many believe that a path towards a scientific career is hindered by a woman's need to get married, start a family etc. But I couldn't disagree more. The reason more women do not become scientists is because there aren’t enough women mentors out there to tell us that science is NOT hard and that we can achieve whatever we set our minds to. I wish someone had told me that when I was 5 years old! Science Club for Girls does just that: a remarkable afterschool program for K-12 girls where real women scientists (PhDs, MDs, etc.), some of us right in the middle of our careers, take time out to become those mentors to these amazing girls.... and in the meantime do some cool science too! In addition, the program is also designed so that girls that finish the curriculum have a chance to get involved as teaching assistants; thereby feeding the mentor-student cycle, a critical part in building self-confidence and foster success. I am a strong believer that SCG (and other programs like it) will change the face of science. Go pink lab coats!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SCFG is a great environment for girls organized in a way to engage girls with a lot of activities, that helps them to express themselves, learn science and explore their lives involving science. Girls take part in practical, hands on science activities, think and talk about science by sharing their results in a variety of different ways.

5

Former staff

Rating: 5

I spent last year working at Science Club for Girls as their Volunteer Coordinator, via the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship. This is a special organization. The staff is dedicated to the mission, and each adds her own special flavor to programming. Connie Chow, Executive Director of Science Club, is equal parts brilliant, inspirational and ingenious. In just over five years she has done tremendous work for the organization, expanding into Cambridge, Boston, Newton and Lawrence. She is a generous, powerful, capable woman who can do three jobs at once, simultaneously, while cracking a joke. I would trust any project she is ever a part of. From the perspective of the volunteer coordinator, I know that this program also serves the women in college and grad school who are looking for a way to connect with the world outside their university and give back. These are brilliant scientists who spend most of their days in the lab, and they really value the opportunity to make science fun with their peers and girls from the local community. It’s helpful for these women to be connected to other female scientists who are trying to make it in STEM, and support each other in these male-dominated fields. I had the privilege of being able to witness first hand what Science Club is capable of. Hearing the girls yell, “Science is for girls like me!” and rush me in the hall to ask why Science Club isn’t every day after school, is proof enough that this organization is making an impact on these girls and their families. Every week I hear laughter in the classrooms, and new vocabulary words like “endometriosis” echoing down the halls. Nowhere like Science Club have I seen an educational nonprofit combine fun with learning. It’s in the quality of our curriculum, the dedication of the staff, and the enthusiasm of our volunteer Mentor Scientists. On a personal level, working at Science Club inspired me to go back to school to pursue a medical degree. The world needs more capable female professionals in STEM. I’m sad that my fellowship with Science Club is over, but I have no doubt that I will continue to be involved in the future. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to serve and learn from such an incredible organization.

5

Former staff

Rating: 5

Throughout my time at SCFG I worked directly with Connie, the executive director. My internship at SCFG, was honestly one of the most gratifying and educational I’ve ever had. I have interned at other nonprofits but none have the work ethic I found at SCFG. Although my peer and I worked from school or home and met with Connie once a week Connie was always responsive to and interested in our work and ideas. During my time there I felt as a member of the SCFG community so I went visit and photograph the SCFG’s programs.

6

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

I found that while my girls were skeptical at first regarding what they might offer (being high school students), the staff immediately made them feel useful and resourceful. Working with younger girls empowering them and inspiring them to feel that science was fun, ended up empowering my girls and giving them a sense of confidence and confirmation that they were indeed interested in science. Having it be a "science club for girls" also helped them to incorporate science into their identity and sense of self. Both my girls were initially relatively shy. I believe that participating in the SCG gave them leadership skills in that they were given the opportunity to contribute to the learning and inspiring of younger girls. The volunteers also received training and support and were provided with special outreach opportunities geared towards their needs (for example they were given the opportunity to shadow a college student who was studying science to get a better sense of their next steps. Both my girls wrote about the organization in their college applications and they both have followed a course of study in science -- one in neuroscience, the other in environmental sciences. I believe that their involvement in the Science Club for Girls was very instrumental in helping to develop their confidence, to reinforce their interest in science and to explore what it might be like to be a woman in science with very positive role models by their side. I cannot say enough good things about this organization and the way it is run.

5

Board Member

Rating: 5

SCFG is passionate about enhancing the confidence and science literacy of girls, especially girls from groups underrepresented in STEM. As one listens to the stories of girls and their families who have “grown up” in the program, the excitement, gratification, confidence and support the program has provided is palpable, as is the feeling of “sisterhood” that is created among the girls. It is remarkable to see how the program has grown over the past 15 years from a grassroots effort by public school parents concerned with equity in education to supporting over 600 youth and achieving recognition such as the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit of the Year (2009). The program does an amazing job with a small staff and a wonderful volunteer base, so please continue (or start to) support the program in any way you can.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

SCFG is an outstanding free program that gives young girls starting at Kindergarten level an opportunity to get acquainted with Science in a hands-on, fun, attractive and challenging way. My daughter enjoyed all the activities as a student since she started as a 3rd grader and last year, as a 7th grader, she loved to participate as a Junior Mentor. The SCFG experience developed and strengthened her understanding and learning of the scientific processes and her confidence and potential in a field that certainly could be intimidating in the regular school setting.

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Science Club for Girls has afforded my daughter a highly valuable opportunity to experience science initiatives first hand, by offering hands on learning. A SCFG member since kindergarten--now a rising 7th grader; she is confident, determined and excited about exploring a career in forensic sciences. She's also developed friendships within the program-- friendships that are supportive, fun and proven longevity. SCFG consistently demonstrates to young girls that potential is a steppingstone to exciting possibilities.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

Science Club for Girls gives girls an opportunity to explore science in a way that is challenging and engaging, while being mentored by older girls and adult women scientists. For my 9 year old daughter, who has always been interested in science and engineering, it gives her a chance to experience success in something that she loves. SCFG is great for all kinds of girls, but for our daughter, who is not interested in some of the more traditional after school activities for girls, it has been a unique and wonderful experience.

7

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

Try to find an afterschool that focuses on science exploration, literacy, confidence, and mentorship for girls as young as 5 years old and there's not much. Most offer programs beginning around the middle school age through high school. But Science Club for Girls has been able to do this and do it well. Giving girls a space to be curious, hands-on and inquisitive cannot always be achieved in a co-ed classroom, but SCFG features this unique environment and naturally unleashes this side in the girls! The program is ingeniously tiered so that a girl can move through the program over the years and experience various aspects such as Club Participant, Junior Mentor - supporting a Mentor Scienctist to run a club (grade 8-12), Summer Intern- teaching science at Cambridge/Boston area day camps, Rocket Team Member - enter the Junior Rocketry Competition (9th-12th), or Mentor Scientist- leading her own club (11th & 12th grade). A touching moment I remember from one particular club session was one girl told me that she had started a science club at home with her friends, inspired by SCFG. They collected bugs and enjoys science programs together!

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The SCFG is made truly wonderful by its staff. I am always eager to attend their events and see for myself the difference they make in the lives of each individual/student they touch

8

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Science Club for Girls volunteers have been coming into my classroom once a week for the last three years. During these visits, the volunteers have taught lessons, led activities, conducted experiments, and engaged in rich and lively discussions with my students. The volunteers are consistently engaged and reliable--they always come to the classroom well-prepared for the day's activities. Additionally, some of our volunteers even went so far as to create supplemental materials for various activities.

8

Former staff

Rating: 5

SCFG is an exceptional program connecting high level science professionals with young girls to help girls feel successful within the field of science. SCFG attracts many volunteers who have PhDs and other advanced degrees. The volunteers are committed to the mission of SCFG and willing to dedicate time and effort on a weekly basis. The bar is set high for what children can achieve and the children rise to the occasion. The clubs also enable children to engage in a hands-on, experimental learning model that is fun, exciting, and helps children learn. This program is an exceptional experience for all involved.

14

Volunteer

Rating: 4

A great opportunity to get scientists to give back to the community. It raises awareness in among scientists of the challenges and rewards of bringing science to the public. This program should be a requirement for all young scientists interested in teaching one day.

12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My first impression of SCFG was one of awe and excitement. I had been asked to serve on a panel of corporate grantmakers with expertise in science education, which was followed by an afternoon of experiments led by the older girls for the younger girls who were enrolled in the Clubs. What impressed me most was how poised and confident the older girls were in teaching the younger girls, and in modeling behavior of learning, knowledge-sharing, and mentoring. That was in 1999. What continues to impress me is what these young girls and women are continuing to do as they successful apply, get accepted, and win scholarships to college. These are young women who never dreamed of going to college, and most of whom are the first from their families to aspire to do so. The impact is nothing short of inspirational, as other communities ask to start their own clubs, and as SCFG alumnae take initiative to start clubs in the communities where they are attending college. I am humbled by the amazing dedication of the Clubs' founders, board leaders, and incredibly talented staff. It is a program I wished I could have had as a young woman, and am thrilled to be engaged with now!