Impact Stories from Youth Engagement Policy Area
Fellow launches STEM makerspace for local children
Fellow(s): Saba Rasheed Malik
Fellow Saba Rasheed Malik (2017) of Pakistan has launched weePro, a program that provides a collaborative learning experience for children and teenagers. Designed to develop skills such as computational thinking, creativity and analysis, weePro’s programming includes a STEM-based makerspace, as well as a robotics and programming camp. At weePro, students are immersed in STEM-based learning, developing code for autonomous robots and conducting experiments that teach working principles of automobiles, vacuum cleaners and floating boats. Recently, weePro completed its pilot program in partnership with a local community center. “It turned out to be a life-changing experience for them,” says Saba.
While in the TechWomen program, Saba worked on the development of educational games at Lumosity. Since her return to Pakistan, in addition to launching weePro, Saba has organized civic hackathons and technology-driven bootcamps for young girls. Currently, she is an assistant professor in computer science at the National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences in Islamabad, Pakistan.Read More »
Report Date: 8/6/2018
Team Cameroon shares action plan news in guest blog post
Fellow(s): Meyo Zongo, Patu Ndango Fen, Danielle Akini, Mpara Faith and Beatrice Nguimkeng
2017 fellows of Cameroon Meyo Zongo and Patu Ndango Fen authored a post for the TechWomen blog this week to provide an update on their seed grant-winning action plan project. Danielle Akini, Mpara Faith and Beatrice Nguimkeng are also members of Team Cameroon, which is implementing Able Too, an initiative that aims to serve as a resource for parents and teachers of special needs children. The team has built its interactive online platform, identified potential partner schools and fostered partnerships with organizations aligned with their mission, such as the Hope Inclusive Foundation, a teacher training center in Yaoundé.
Able Too recently launched their pilot teacher training program at the Tassah Academic Complex, facilitating workshops on inclusive teaching, including strategies to creatively engage hyperactive children.
Report Date: 7/23/2018
Fellows win AEIF grant for youth STEM camp in Lebanon
Fellow(s): Sabine El Kahi and Aseel Honein
Cohort: 2013 & 2014
Fellows Sabine El Kahi (2014) and Aseel Honein (2013) of Lebanon are winners of an Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) award for their Orion STEM camp, which will introduce youth to different aspects of technology, including design, electronics, coding and gaming. Intended for students 12 to 18 years old, the camp will bring young adults together to collaborate and solve challenges through a scientific lens. The program will reserve half of its spots for students from underserved communities.
During the camp’s closing ceremony, participants will have the opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas and demonstrate their learnings. Sabine and Aseel hope that students will gain valuable skills through engagement with design thinking, architecture, game making and mechanical engineering.
AEIF awards support alumni initiatives that promote shared values and innovative solutions to global challenges. Out of more than 1,300 applications submitted this year, Sabine and Aseel’s project is one of just 70 to be selected for a grant and is funded under the AEIF theme of Advancing Science, Technology, Health and Innovation.
Report Date: 7/23/2018
Team Kenya shares action plan updates in guest blog post
Fellow(s): Ruth Kaveke, Janet Leparteleg, Charity Wanjiku, Chao Mbogo and Topy Muga
2017 fellows of Kenya Ruth Kaveke, Janet Leparteleg, Charity Wanjiku, Chao Mbogo and Topy Muga wrote a guest post for the TechWomen blog, providing an update on their action plan project. A lack of toilet facilities represents a major cause of sanitation-related illnesses across the world and has led many schools in Kenya to shut down. In response to this, Team Kenya’s initiative, Project Digniti, aims to build new toilets and design a sanitation curriculum in rural schools through partnerships with existing sanitation providers.
The team selected Nengerpus Primary School, located 350 kilometers from Nairobi, for the pilot program after meeting with the school’s principal and chair of the board in June. The school has 123 students but only one toilet for girls. Project Digniti will install two additional girls’ toilets with the help of local builders. Once new facilities are installed, the team will train school staff and students about best sanitation practices through a comprehensive curriculum. The team is also partnering with companies to provide cleaning products for the toilets.
Report Date: 7/16/2018
Pakistani fellow launches mentoring initiative for orphans
Fellow(s): Mehak Jamal
2017 fellow Mehak Jamal of Pakistan recently launched a social initiative called Ibtida, meaning “beginning” in Urdu, for local women to support other young women. Ibtida will train educated but economically inactive women from financially marginalized communities as mentors for middle school girls in under-resourced schools. For mentors, Ibtida develops a higher sense of self, thus supporting them to a become more engaged in their community; for the young girls, “it’s the beginning of a journey of self-exploration.”
Once trained, mentors are placed in underserved schools, where they will implement activity-based programming for girls to develop skills that better prepare them to enter the workforce. The first cycle of Ibtida will begin this September with 20 mentors and 60 eighth grade girls from Lahore, beginning with young orphans, who are among the most vulnerable in their society. In the second phase, the program will expand to include refugees and internally displaced persons.
Mehak hopes that the program will be enriching for both mentors and mentees and will help address the low rate of women in the workforce in Pakistan by empowering participants with marketable skills and training. Her goal is that by 2020, Ibtida will support 600 women, 1,200+ young girls and 30 schools.
Report Date: 7/16/2018
Fellow leads engagement in international teen hackathon
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa
2017 fellow of South Africa Lindiwe Matlali recently led a group of teens participating in an Education for Justice (E4J)-sponsored hackathon in Silicon Valley. In partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Lindiwe also helped coordinate elements of the hackathon, relying on connections from her TechWomen network, including at Symantec, which hosted the three-day event. The delegation from South Africa, which included student participants from Africa Teen Geeks, the organization founded by Lindiwe, was accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training of South Africa, Buti Manamela.
The event asked students to develop educational games to teach users about criminal justice and crime prevention. Twenty-five students were selected among winners of previous regional hackathons in South Africa, Indonesia, Bolivia and the U.S. Lindiwe’s team won the competition by creating Silent Screm, an app aimed at combatting human trafficking in South Africa.
Report Date: 7/9/2018
Fellow wins AEIF award for initiative to train women on entrepreneurship and software development
Fellow(s): Shatha Jayyousi
2013 fellow of Jordan Shatha Jayyousi was among the 2018 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) award winners for an initiative that will train women and girls, including about 50 migrants, in Amman and Athens. The cross-border project, a collaboration with alumni of the International Visitors Leadership Program and the Fulbright Student Program, will utilize a mobile learning curriculum to provide business entrepreneurship and software development training to help participants launch their own businesses. The program represents an effort to address high unemployment rates in both Jordan and Greece, as well as the gender gap in STEM and digital skills. Shatha credits her participation in TechWomen for connecting her to the vast and supportive Department of State alumni network.
AEIF awards support alumni initiatives that promote shared values and innovative solutions to global challenges. Out of more than 1,300 applications submitted this year, Shatha’s project is one of just 70 to be selected for a grant, and is funded under the AEIF theme of Empowering Women and Girls.
Report Date: 7/9/2018
Fellows travel with TechGirls to U.S. and lead panel discussion
Fellow(s): Reham Nasser, Nisreen Deeb, Shatha Jayyousi, Amel Ghouila and Hania Gati
Country: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia
Cohort: 2011, 2013, 2014
Fellows Reham Nasser (2011) of Egypt, Nisreen Deeb (2013) of Lebanon, Shatha Jayyousi (2013) of Jordan, Amel Ghouila (2014) of Tunisia and Hania Gati (2011) of Algeria were selected as the inaugural group of TechWomen fellows to serve as flight chaperones for the 2018 TechGirls cohort, joining the girls in traveling from their home countries to Washington, DC. TechGirls is an ECA initiative that brings 15- to 17-year-old girls from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to the United States to empower and inspire them to pursue careers in STEM. TechGirls hail from the same seven countries in MENA as TechWomen participants.
After escorting TechGirls participants to the U.S., the fellows joined a panel discussion – also livestreamed on Facebook – to kick off TechGirls’s U.S. programming. Panelists discussed their work and how they became interested in STEM and also shared advice for the girls. Reham encouraged them to never be afraid to ask questions. She spoke about how boldness enriched her TechWomen experience tremendously, enabling her to learn as much as she could. Fellows also shared about support groups that helped them throughout their career and as women in STEM. Said Hania, “Both of my [TechWomen] mentors gave me so much knowledge. I thought to myself, when I come back to Algeria I have to be a mentor. The more help you receive, the more you want to give.”
Report Date: 7/9/2018
Fellow featured on Wonder Women Entrepreneurs List
Fellow(s): Afnan Ali
Afnan Ali, 2011 fellow of Jordan, was highlighted on StartUp Scene’s “8 Wonder Women Entrepreneurs Crossing Milestones in Jordan” list. The article discusses Afnan’s startup, Eureka, which provides scientific programming to Jordanian youth, teaching them about engineering, robotics, electronics and renewable energy, as well as entrepreneurship and creating business plans. Eureka students are encouraged to compete in local and international competitions. Since the startup’s founding in 2014, more than 500 students have participated in the program.
In 2016, Afnan pitched Eureka at the Rise Up Summit in Cairo, Egypt. Out of 23 pitches, she was one of six entrepreneurs chosen to participate in a 10-day acceleration program hosted by RiseUp and TechWadi in Silicon Valley.
Report Date: 6/25/2018
Fellows launch initiative developed during 2017 TechWomen program
Fellow(s): Lara Chikhani, Maya Itani and Rasha Sukkarieh
After developing their action plan concept during the 2017 program, three fellows of Lebanon, Lara Chikhani, Maya Itani and Rasha Sukkarieh, have launched Solve24, a project-based summer program that will train students aged 13-17 to solve real-life problems through STEM. Though the team was not awarded a seed grant during their time in the U.S., Lara, Maya and Rasha were passionate about their idea and continued their mentorship virtually upon returning home, supported by Impact Coaches Katy Dickinson, Fatema Kothari and Mercedes Soria, who serve on Solve24’s advisory board. Said Lara, “Thank you to Techwomen for pushing us to start this and connecting us with the amazing mentors.”
Solve24 will offer activities to improve participants’ skills in design thinking, leadership, communication, innovation and teamwork as they design a project focused on solving an issue in their community. At the end of the program, students will pitch their projects to design professionals, mentors and family members. The top projects will be awarded a prize.
Lara, Maya and Rasha hope that Solve24 will help Lebanese youth cultivate critical thinking skills and creativity in order to create positive impact and be competitive in the global job market. The first boot camp program will begin this summer.
Report Date: 6/25/2018