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Four girls sit at desks with laptops on them as a woman and man stand nearby. The man points to one girl’s laptop as she and another girl look on.
Executive Director of DIY Girls Leticia Rodriguez and mentor Luis Luna, both standing, work with Anayeli Martinez, center, and other DIY Girls participants.
Diversity & Inclusion
December 5, 2019

Investing in the next generation of future female STEAM leaders

DIY Girls is a nonprofit in Los Angeles exposing girls to science, technology, engineering, art, and math careers and majors, thanks to support from Wells Fargo.

Luz Rivas was working as an electrical engineer when she realized she was often the only woman in the room — and always the only Latina. So Rivas, who is currently a state assembly member in California, decided to start a nonprofit to help girls become interested in technology and engineering.

DIY (“Do-It-Yourself”) Girls began in 2012 and has since served more than 4,000 girls — mostly Latina — in predominately low-income communities in Los Angeles.

High school student Anayeli Martinez says, “It wasn’t until DIY Girls that I actually knew what engineering was.” She now credits the program with her seeking an engineering degree in college. (2:48)
“She really saw a need for STEAM programming here in the Northeast San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, and specifically programming that was tailored and targeted for girls." — Leticia Rodriguez, executive director of DIY Girls

“She really saw a need for STEAM programming here in the Northeast San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, and specifically programming that was tailored and targeted for girls,” said Leticia Rodriguez, executive director of DIY Girls. “She started the program at Telfair Elementary School, where she first learned about computers.”

DIY Girls now partners with 15 school sites and exposes girls from fifth grade to college to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). The girls learn woodworking, coding, and engineering, as well as soft skills like public speaking, problem solving, and critical thinking.

“Most of our girls don’t have these kinds of opportunities,” Rodriguez said. “Growing up in the community, they’re not often exposed to role models who are in technology and engineering. I think it’s really exciting that we engage the girls from a very early age to get them thinking about these careers, which are some of the fastest growing careers in the country at the moment — and where Latinas and girls in general are really underrepresented.”

Two girls look at a box with ultraviolet lights on inside.
Two hands are shown holding a small green square in front of a laptop on a desk.
Part of a student’s hair is shown in front of a computer screen with coding on it. Some of the phrases seen include “Image Effect mode options,” “Metering mode options,” and “Dynamic Range Compression.”
A laptop is on a desk with a rectangle and circle drawn on it. A person’s arm and hair are shown beside it, and part of a hand is on the computer’s mouse.
A laptop is on a desk with a rectangle and circle drawn on it. A person’s arm and hair are shown beside it, and part of a hand is on the computer’s mouse.
DIY Girls participants use a 3D printer.
A DIY Girls participant holds a board that reads inputs and turns them into outputs.
DIY Girls participants learn skills like coding.
DIY Girls participants use devices like a wooden 3D printer.
A DIY Girls participant uses computer-aided design software.

Since the nonprofit began, 100% of the students who have participated and graduated high school have gone on to attend universities and colleges including Stanford University and Georgetown University, and 88% of them have pursued STEAM majors, Rodriguez said.

Wells Fargo recently donated $20,000 to support the nonprofit and its programs, allowing it to serve nearly 1,000 girls throughout the year.

“It’s important to support organizations like DIY Girls that focus on developing our youth to become successful and independent adults — the future leaders of our communities and society — especially women in underserved populations,” said Jack Olree, Community Relations senior consultant for Wells Fargo. “These organizations deserve a closer look when we’re talking about making a long-term impact and not only helping our children, but also our communities, to become more successful.”

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