STEM Matters! College Matters!

Addressing the issue of poverty and lack of education for the kids in Detroit through promoting "College Matters" and "STEM Matters".

Photo of Anna
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  • Technology

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

  • No

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Date You Started Your Project Started

2007: Co-founded the Little Stars Foundation 2016: Started to organize free annual summer STEM workshops: 3D printing, Computer programming. 2018: Started college matters events in Detroit and Chicago; Wrote children’s book titled Sara’s Spark for STEM that focuses on the importance of young girls in STEM. 2019: Started the book signing and book donation to local libraries and school libraries to reach out more people. Added "how to apply college" event to the "college matters".

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?

The issue of poverty and lack of education for the kids in the inner city of Detroit. While women comprise 48% of the total workforce, they only contribute to 14% of the engineering workforce. Women are still underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

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

Addressing the issue of poverty and lack of education for the kids in the inner city of Detroit through promoting "College Matters" and "STEM Matters". Inspiring the future 1st generation college student and the minority, woman who underrepresented in STEM area.

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

As I became painfully aware of the deeply embedded gender bias created by society’s cultural expectations, I began resenting the part of me that craved the thrill of unfamiliar problem sets; yet, I needed to learn more. I witnessed the gender-gap at my Ford internship, where my mentor fought to have her opinion heard as the only female in her department. I signed up for every STEM opportunity that arose, ignoring the questioning looks from my male classmates as I walked into each of my four math classes junior year. My goal is to ensure that society eventually realizes that the 30% of women working in STEM fields do have meaningful contributions. Obligated to advocate for my gender, I began reaching out to younger girls. Through teaching 3-D printing and computer-science workshops, and even publishing a children’s book, I hope to clear the doubts of young females like me.

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

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

After hearing my friends’ stories of the poor education system in Detroit, I used Google Scripts and sent 6000+ universities emails requesting their paraphernalia to help motivate inner-city children to attend college, and the response was overwhelming! I collected over 3000 items, including t-shirts, pamphlets, pens, notebooks, and even toothbrushes. Soon, I hosted an event at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, and witnessed high schoolers, mostly future first-generation college students, eagerly discussing the pamphlets and learning more about paths into higher education. I was humbled to see how the code I wrote helped positively influence my friends. Later, director Kevin Fite emailed me, announcing that the students wore the college shirts all week! Now, I am determined to continue using automation to help improve lives.

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

Our programs is youth helping youth. The STEM workshop we offered is not only focus on STEM but also a leadership training. The college donation and "college matters" events are unique and kids love it. Also, not many children's book address the issues we are facing. It is a good way to reach out more people.

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

Our STEM workshops directly impacted 40-50 kids every year since 2016 and indirectly impacted hundreds kids through the leadership training. The "college matters" events directly impacted over 250 kids and their family and indirectly impacted much more when those kids went back to their school wearing the college T-shirt and talked about college in 2018. In 2019 we added how to apply college event as new "college matters" program and over 120 people attended. Through book signing event and book donation to local libraries and the school libraries hundreds of kids impacted.

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

Expand our program to more locations, add more events addressing "college matters" and "STEM matters", fundraiser for donating more books to libraries, maybe write new books.

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

  • Public Relations

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

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Sales
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations between $100-$1k

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)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact
  • Email

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Peggy Liang

Hi Anna, great idea asking colleges for their free swag to give to underrepresented kids. I thought that was an awesome idea, and it would definitely inspire kids to further consider college. I'm wondering how you can take that a step further. Is there a way you can connect colleges with these kids, have colleges sponsor or fund trips for these students? What's the next step with the kids? :) All the best to you!