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.
“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.”
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.”