Program yoUr Future (PUF)

I am the Founder and Executive Director for Program yoUr Future (PUF), directing year-long programs that educate and empower minority youth.

Photo of Alankrita Dayal
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Written by

Additional categories (optional)

  • Technology

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

October 3, 1996

Help us stay in touch!

USA: (510) 552 - 8725 California: Berkeley (94704)

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Follow PUF on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/programurfuture and on Twitter: @ProgramUrFuture

Date You Started Your Project Started

January 1, 2014

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

By 2026, it is predicted that there will be 2.5 million unfilled STEM jobs, yet underrepresented minorities currently hold only 10 percent of all science & engineering roles, despite making up over a quarter of the working population. In order for U.S. to remain competitive and meet current & future workforce needs, we need to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities earning computing degrees & joining the computing workforce.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Through Program yoUr Future, I have aimed to raise greater awareness for women and other underrepresented minorities in technology. Through year-long educational programs, my programs enable inclusive, hands-on learning opportunities with the aim of bridging the current achievement gap between underrepresented populations (i.e. low-income, students of color, ESL, disabled) and more advantaged students in academia, industry, & STEM fields. Through engaging Career Exploration/Technical/STEM summer camps, valuable mentorship opportunities, academic bootcamps, high school and college level internships, field-trips to museums, research labs, and industry companies, reconnection events, project coaching, and networking opportunities, I equip students with both the technical and the non-technical skills necessary for their retention and success in these fields. My programs are designed to help all students, and particularly young women and minorities, navigate their journeys, with an emphasis on computing careers. Through reconnection opportunities post program experiences, I also enable students to support others in their pursuit of higher education as they fulfill their own aspirations.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

As one of the very few, & many times, the only female student in my advanced math and science courses, it was difficult to find mentors, have my voice heard, or feel welcomed in the field. I remember walking happily into my 1st day of AP Computer Science in high school yet seeing only one other girl in a class of 38 students. When I went on to college to pursue a STEM degree, this experience did not change much, where almost all students, TAs, and professors were also male. It was quite challenging to be the only female - let alone woman of color - in many of my sections, and it was discouraging to see female peers drop out of the major. By defying the status quo, I was able to pursue my passion for computer science, and through my reform efforts via Program yoUr Future (PUF), I have actively inspired others with the necessary tools, connections, and resources to be able to do the same.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

To me, equity & inclusion in STEM/Computer Science is not just about whether classes are available, but also about how those classes are taught,how students are recruited & at what age, and how the classroom culture supports diverse learners & promotes retention. Students, especially those who are at-risk&underrepresented, need a voice and an accessible platform that fosters a support system & breaks down the barriers that hamper them from achieving success. And Program yoUr Future is just that.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Makeba is a twelve year old girl. Her father left the family when she was little, and her mother single handedly raises her, working night shifts to meet their needs at home. Her school does not have the resources to offer hands-on CS and STEM learning, and her family does not have the budget for outside programs. Makeba learns of the afterschool PUF program hosted nearby and joins. Growing up, she had never seen any role models in STEM/CS fields. Through PUF’s hands-on activities and one-on-one mentors, Makeba becomes excited by what all is possible through technology and becomes interested in pursuing studies and a career in this field. Through completion of the PUF Hackers Academy, Makeba now knows how to code in Python and has deployed a social good app of her own into the app store. She receives continued support and a tight-knit community from PUF throughout her educational career.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Program yoUr Future is innovative in several distinct ways: 1. PUF offers of a diverse range of programs, starting at the beginner level and progressing on to the intermediate, advanced, and expert levels, along with numerous college prep and professional development opportunities--thereby enabling a holistic platform for effective personalized learning, catered to each and every student. 2. Alumni of the program have the opportunity to return as Fellows in the PUF Leadership Team, encouraging the next cohort of students through a near-peer, role model approach. 3. Longitudinal learning

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

I have successfully hosted a diverse range of technical programs as well as launched multiple web-based educational technologies, empowering over 5000 students over the years since PUF's formation. I have formed the necessary network and partnerships to continue expanding such efforts in the upcoming days, free of cost! Personal Stories on PUF's Impact can be found here on my effort's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ProgramUrFuture/ PUF students are paired closely with research, academia, and industry mentors that guide them longitudinally throughout their educational career. I feel truly elated when I hear from my past students that their life has been changed from the PUF programs that I have directed. I am proud of the impact PUF has had on heightening their passion towards STEM, CS, and technology and the efforts we continue to make towards our larger vision and goal!

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

This year, Program yoUr Future (PUF) has committed to double the number of educational STEM outreach programs it hosts to 20, aiming to support and empower students both during the summer time and the school year. We have set a goal to deliver 200 hours of hands-on lessons, including training, mentorship,and career development opportunities, each to 1000 students. Through hands-on academies, web-based technologies, longitudinal tracking,and gamification, Program yoUr Future encourages and guides students to participate and persist within STEM/CS. I have leveraged well-designed interactive learning methods,so that PUF students walk out the door and say, ‘We’re ready!’ & ‘We belong here!’ It has been rewarding promoting equity & inclusion.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Program Design

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Sales
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations over $10k

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Disability community
  • Low-income community
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)
  • Other

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Search engine

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Photo of Anastasia Walton
Team

I love the amount of background knowledge you placed in your proposal, it really allows people to see how much amazing effort you are putting into your project. Amazing idea, wish you lots of success.

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