Empoder helps girls code their future

Thirty-two low-income, primarily Latina, middle school girls are immersing themselves in code during Empoder’s 4-week summer program.

Empoder CEO and Founder, Marissa Ynez, said the girls learn to program through fun, hands-on projects that are socially relevant. For example, one student created a program that taught immigrant parents how to use technology more effectively.

“If girls learn to code in middle school before they see themselves as ‘unable’, they can acquire the interest, skills, and confidence to take the high school classes required to be technology majors in college,” said Los Altos Hills resident Ynez, herself a Latina engineer.

One student, Paula, said the program is a radical change from her usual classes.

“Here we learn things like how math and numbers matter and how they apply to the real world,” she said. “It makes us realize engineering is actually fun.”

The teaching team of 16 volunteer high school students trained for 2 ½ weeks to engage middle school girls in STEM.

One volunteer, Nahe Sharma, an on-line high school student who recently moved to Silicon Valley from Brasil, said it’s amazing seeing these students learn material five grades above their current level.

“The girls are getting it and enjoying it!” Sharma said.

But the learning doesn’t stop there.

After the summer session, students are encouraged to participate in Empoder’s year-round programs aimed at giving them the skills they’ll need to succeed in STEM classes in high school and beyond.

Because of your support of Los Altos Community Foundation, Paula and 31 other girls have experienced firsthand the excitement of technology.  Together with Empoder, we’re helping to bridge the digital divide.

Thanks for your support of Los Altos Community Foundation and its Community Grants program.

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