Category: Announcements

Spotlight: Inspiring future female pilots with PreFlight!

This summer, High-Tech High Heels proudly sponsored PreFlight camp as one of our 2019 grantees to show young girls the sky is the limit when it comes to what they can achieve, including becoming a pilot.

Out of over 580,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificated pilots in the United States only 6.7 percent of them are women, and those numbers are not increasing. In fact, when compared to figures in 2010, the total number of female pilots has decreased nationally by 7.2 percent.

To help prepare girls to takeoff, High-Tech High Heels funded PreFlight Camp – a five-day aviation camp for preteen girls at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas in July.

They use aviation to transform girls’ beliefs about gender roles, increase their self-esteem and inspire them to become pilots. In the same way that a pilot must first perform a “preflight” before they can takeoff in their airplane, the camp is a young girls “preflight” into aviation.

Camp activities ranged from hands-on experiments and teambuilding exercises to piloting a simulator and flying an airplane with female flight instructors.  The lessons featured aerodynamics, airplane components, navigation, weather, airplane communications, and weight and balance. 

Campers were able to tour CFAN, a manufacturing facility that makes composite fan blades for GE engines on the Boeing 747, 777, and 787.  Another highlight included a look at WWII airplanes at the Commemorative Air Force Hangar and receiving a presentation on the Women Air Force Service Pilots.

Post camp results:

  • 58% increase in campers that reported wanting to be a pilot as a result of attending PreFlight Aviation Camp, compared to their answers on pre-camp surveys. 
  • 100% of campers agreed that the airplane flight helped them to believe that becoming a pilot is possible.
  • 100% of campers also agreed that having camp counselors who are pilots helped them to believe that becoming a pilot is possible.
  • 100% of campers agreed that attended PreFlight empowered them to achieve their goals.
  • 91% of campers agreed that attending PreFlight helped to build their self-esteem (2 campers answered ‘neutral’)

What did the campers think? 

  • “Preflight is really an engaging camp. I’d learned a lot about basic things in aviation and it gave me a new perspective about aviation. My favorite is when I got to fly and control the plane a bit. It really encouraged me as a woman to do my best in the STEM industry. And everyone is really nice & friendly.” – Rocelyn, 14
  • “Preflight was great. There were many excellent classes and some great tours like at CFAN and the day at the airport, especially flying the Cessna 172 Skyhawk… I would definitely recommend the camp to other girls” – Francesca, 15.
  • “Preflight was amazing! It exceeded all of my expectations and I did not want to leave this educational atmosphere of encouraging and inspirational counselors and leaders!” – Selena, 13
  • “This is the right camp if you want to get your brain thinking…I loved going up in the airplane and getting to fly it.”-Sophia, 12

Donate to High-Tech High Heels:

If you are interested in supporting High-Tech High Heels with funding for impactful programs such as PreFlight and want to inspire the next generation of girls to pursue college-level degrees in STEM, please consider a recurring or one-time donation here.

Spotlight: Big milestone – HTHH has granted over 1 million dollars

High-Tech High Heels was founded in 2001 by a group of women with a shared vision of closing the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Eighteen years ago, through their own educational experiences, they knew that closing the gender gap in STEM would require increasing the number of girls graduating from high school and entering a college-level degree program in STEM.  These women pooled their resources to create a Donor Advised Fund so they could grant to programs to support this vision and mission.   However, in 2001, there were no programs to support these objectives.  Not to be deterred, these amazing philanthropreneurs developed their own programs to educate and inspire high school girls to succeed in STEM. 

Thank you to our HTHH founders: Susan Sue Alberti, Cindy Allen, Karla Barber, Shaunna Black, Beth Bull, Lisa Byrd, Mary McDermott Cook, Wendy Engibous, Julie England, Marla Finco, Wanda Gass, Cynthia Grimm, Mary Helmick, Diana Johnson Hightower, Ember Bennett Hogan, Lisa Knipe, Melendy Lovett, Elisabeth Marley, Gray Mayes, Margaret McDermott, Elizabeth Moyer, Mary Ann Murphy, Marcia Page, Carol Primdahl, Tegwin Pulley, Tammy Richards, Jane Schoen, Judy Shaw, Linda Smittle, Delena Spencer, Mary Templeton, Terri West.

Nearly two decades later, the work of HTHH continues with the same passion and commitment to those founding objectives.  HTHH has just achieved a major milestone by funding our one millionth dollar toward programs that close the gender gap in STEM fields.

HTHH still funds the core, proven programs created by its Founders for high school girls.   And now, HTHH also funds new and innovative programs to improve STEM education, inspire and mentor the next generation, and provide hands-on learning opportunities for girls across the entire K-12 STEM academic pipeline.  

Help us continue to fund impactful programs targeted at closing the gender gap in STEM by making a donation todayThanks a million!

Spotlight: Inspirational women making history at HTHH

High-Tech High Heels would like to take a moment to highlight
some of our very own {S}HEROES. We are fortunate to be
surrounded by so many wonder women making history at
HTHH, and we picked three of them with unbelievable stories
that are sure to inspire you to go out and make history, too!



Not only is Wanda Gass one of High-Tech High Heels’ revered founders, but she is also the co-inventor of the initial Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processing product.  This became TI’s digital flagship product in the 1990s & 2000s and drove the conversion from analog to digital for media and communications.  Ms. Gass is a trailblazer for women in STEM and made history in 1999 when she and Duy-Loan Lee were the first women promoted to TI Fellows. In 2007, she was elevated to IEEE Fellow for her contributions in VLSI signal processing
architectures and circuits. To pave the way for girls of generations to come, Gass founded Design Connect Create in 2014 to deliver Physics Camps programming to help young women be successful in STEM classes.




Kacie is one of the most recently elected High-Tech High Heels Texas board members, following years volunteering on the HTHH communications and Friendraiser committees.  After graduating from Texas Tech and interning at Southwest Airlines, Kacie began her career at Texas Instruments as a business analyst. Since 2015, Kacie has worked in IT functions for Enterprise Applications, Demand Creation, and Supply Chain.  She also serves as President of the TI New Employee Initiative and donates numerous hours each week to leading her peers to foster a community of new TI employees. Even though Kacie has just recently begun her career, she is already making a mark and is inspiring people around her, both women and men,
through her professionalism and dedication.




Sandra attended a High-Tech High Heels funded Design Connect Create Physics camp a few summers ago (if you think this sounds familiar, you’re right! This is Wanda Gass’
organization referenced above.)
Sandra has worked extremely hard in her STEM courses, and in May 2019, she will make history by being the first in her family to EVER graduate from high school. But that’s
not even the best part!! Sandra was recently accepted into Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and will be the first in her family to attend college.

Interested IN HELPING High-Tech High Heels empower more women?

We are expanding our impact across America

As the New Year begins, High-Tech High Heels is more committed than ever to closing the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers. Over the past 18 years, HTHH has funded programs that make a meaningful difference in the lives of middle and high school girls in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. The teenage years are critical for girls, as 4 in 5 STEM college students make their degree decisions in high school or earlier, and 12-17 year old girls are continuing to opt out of the STEM academic pipeline every day.

“As we reflect on our efforts over nearly 2 decades, we are encouraged by our progress,” shares Laura Steffek, High-Tech High Heels President. HTHH grants have resulted in more than 1,000 girls attending AP Physics Camps, 800 STEM educators attending Gender Equity Training, and 1,000 school counselors attending workshops on STEM careers in North Texas.

The gender gap in STEM careers is not just a Dallas issue; it’s a national issue. In a study of 10 major metropolitan areas across the country, it was found that there were no other organizations like High-Tech High Heels that fund diverse, effective programs that encourage and prepare young women to excel in STEM.  “In order to maintain our focus on growing our impact in the cities in which we currently operate while also expanding across America, we created a new structure that establishes the national organization, High-Tech High Heels, and introduces regional HTHH chapters as their own entities,” Robin Bray, Texas Chapter President, announces.

The new national High-Tech High Heels, led by President Laura Steffek, will be primarily responsible for overseeing the non-profit organization as a whole. The national team will lead expansion efforts and explore potential cities for chapters, conduct annual audits, govern regional chapters, and maintain the High-Tech High Heels brand. With your support, the regional chapters, HTHH-Texas, led by President Robin Bray, and HTHH-Silicon Valley, led by President Maria Olsen, will continue to fund diverse, effective programs that encourage and prepare young women to excel in STEM.

High-Tech High Heels established a long-term goal two years ago to expand operations to 5 cities by 2026. Since then, they launched a Silicon Valley chapter in 2017 and will choose the next site in 2019.

While the goals are growing and structure is changing at High-Tech High Heels, its mission remains the same: to increase the number of girls who graduate high school prepared to pursue STEM degrees.  High-Tech High Heels is operated entirely by volunteers and donors who believe in this mission, and in order to support their expansion, HTHH has elected 41 dedicated board members and numerous volunteers in Texas and the Silicon Valley. These board members and volunteers range from senior executives at Fortune 100 companies to new college graduates and all of them use their gifts and talents to inspire young girls. “We are incredibly thankful for all of our committed volunteers and donors,” Robin Bray says. “Our work is only possible with their support.”

If you are interested in donating to High-Tech High Heels, explore donation options here and see what your donation can provide for young girls in your community.

If you, or anyone you know, would be interested in volunteering for High-Tech High Heels, fill out a quick volunteer form and a HTHH representative will contact you and share different options about how you can join the team. “I vividly remember the first female engineer I met,” shares Laura Steffek. “There was so much power in meeting someone who looked like me who was an engineer. It made me realize I could become one, too. So many people helped me along the way. Creating opportunities for girls to see themselves as engineers is my way of giving back.” Laura’s experience is much like the experiences of teenage girls who meet High-Tech High Heels volunteers who are a part of the Speakers Bureau, one of the many ways to volunteer for HTHH.

And last but not least…

Energized and encouraged by its expansion and organizational changes, High-Tech High Heels refreshed it’s brand with a new logo and look! Head over to now and check it out.

Spotlight: Eureka! building confidence and skills in STEM – Grace’s story

Grace – Eureka! program participant

High-Tech High Heels currently funds Eureka!, a STEM-based program through Girls Inc. Dallas. Eureka! is an intensive, five-year STEM-based program that builds girls’ confidence and skills through hands-on opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. Utilizing a “whole girl” approach, the program also includes sports and physical fitness, personal development, and college and career readiness. In addition to the summer component, during the school year there are monthly events, activities and field trips. Find more information here.

We interviewed Grace, a junior in high school that has participated in the program for four years. Girls Inc. Dallas has provided a safe place for Grace to go after school since she was eight years old.

Her mother enrolled her in the STEM-based program Eureka! prior to 8th grade. Grace shared that she a hard time with math at the time, but was strong in science. Through the years, she feels the program has helped her with both. “I now feel confident that I’ll get better over time. The best thing I’ve learned was about the periodic table of elements during my first year. It truly helped me pass my chemistry exam in school!” she said. Her first experience with the program was a STEM camp at Richland College, where it has stuck with her that the professors treated them like college students.

The program includes sports and physical fitness, personal development, and college and career readiness. When asked about her favorite aspect, Grace shared: “I like the personal development. Each year, we mature, so the way we do and view things are different. It challenges me and gives me new insights on things and ideas I’d never think of.”

Grace has had many hands-on experiences with STEM throughout her four years in the program. She reflected on a few of the most memorable: “We’ve flown rocket ships, and then there’s my personal favorite: the cooking-themed science experiments! We’ve made dough (YES, COOKING DOUGH!), peanut butter, marshmallow spread, and some neat candy!”

Going into the third year of the program, she did not know what she wanted to do as a career. During the summer, she had an internship with Pioneer Oil Company, where she was mentored in Human Resourcing and event planning. “Easy to say I fell in love, just with being able to go to meetings, plan events, and communicate,” she shared. This past summer, Grace participated in SAT prep and had the opportunity to hear from many inspiring women: “Eureka! is giving me resources, and being able to have guests talk to us lets me see the other world of business and communications.” When asked about the future, Grace noted: “When I go to college, I want to study communications, while pursuing a career in Human Resources.”

Outside of school and Girls Inc. programs, Grace gives back to the community through volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House. She also enjoys praise dance at church and school and shopping with her friends.Grace left with us these inspirational words about what she has learned being a part of Eureka!: “STEM really is doable! It made me feel more confident in school, and STEM in general.”

We wish Grace the best of luck in her final year of Eureka! and beyond.


Spotlight: Persistence Development Foundation inspiring girls with CodeSLAM

This month’s spotlight highlights one of our recent grant recipients, Persistence Development Foundation.  Persistence Development Foundation focuses on “improving lives of individuals in underserved communities (geographic and/or economic) in the north Texas region by closing the digital divide and addressing digital literacy issues through computer coding instruction and certification training.”

High Tech High Heels is proud to support the foundation’s out-of-school program, CodeSLAM, which “introduces students to basic web development, app development and game creation.” These programs will further help to expose girls in north Texas to STEM careers and the industry by getting them engaged in coding programs. We talked to Harold Strong, from the foundation to discuss the importance and impact of these coding programs.

We are looking forward to help in making CodeSLAM available and accessible to all girls in north Texas!

Q: How was Persistence Development Foundation started? What inspired the foundation’s mission?

The motivation for Persistence Development Foundation is to assist under resourced families to become digitally engaged and become [part] of the growing digital community.   As the Dallas Smart City initiative is to “leverage technology in becoming an inclusive, connected and efficient city focused on improving the quality of life of our citizens”, PDF’s mission is to improve the lives of individuals in underserved communities (geographic and/or economic) in the north Texas region by closing the digital divide and addressing digital literacy issues through computer coding instruction and certification training.

Q: What drove the need for CodeSLAM programs in north Texas?

The CodeSLAM program began as a tool to assist middle school students to actively participate and engage at the Dallas Park & Recreation Teen Tech Center makerspace without being taught or instructed on how to use the technology in the space.  The basic CodeSLAM program offers three coding experiences including (1) creating a website, (2) creating an app and (3) creating a game in Android and SWIFT environments. This program serves as a great introduction to computer coding and provides a very fast, efficient foundation for future coding experiences.  For the Teen Tech Center, the students were provided coding hints to assist in successfully exploring the fun and power of creating games, social media sites and applications through the use of the provided computing equipment in the center.  As a result, traffic to the Teen Tech Center grew as more students (and neighboring Recreation Centers) added coding as a part of their Rec Center offerings. 

With the success of the initial program, CodeStream Studios refined the program to support [and] accommodate a broader age range as well as broader computer coding skill level.  Over the past school year, we have successfully hosted more than 10 CodeSLAMs with Uplift Education, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas combined.  While the program focuses on social media, app development and game creation, the program has been adjusted to support data from multiple environments. So, at the Dallas Zoo the CodeSLAM program will feature an option of game development, app creation or social media development featuring animals that influence innovation.

With funding from High Tech High Heels, PDF and CodeStream Studios partnered with Frontiers of Flight for a Spring Break ’18 program to support the Young Women’s STEM Leadership Initiative with a vision to increase female students’ interest in STEM-related careers. More than 45 girls from Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Arnold (GPISD) and Young Women’s STEAM Academy at Balch Springs (DISD) participated in the program.  It should be noted that both schools have a high percentage of under-resourced girls. We believe that by providing these students opportunities to view real-world applications of STEM, it will encourage them to push past any boundaries they may encounter as they plan for their future.

The CodeSLAM program was used with MIT App Inventor to create games featuring Dorothy Vaughan and the women who devote their careers to space exploration.

Q: What is the ultimate impact of these programs?

PDF and CodeStream Studios partnered with Frontiers of Flight for a Spring Break ’18 program to support the Young Women’s STEM Leadership Initiative with a vision to increase female students’ interest in STEM-related careers. More than 45 girls from Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Arnold (GPISD) and Young Women’s STEAM Academy at Balch Springs (DISD) participated in the program.  It should be noted that both schools have a high percentage of under-resourced girls. We believe that by providing these students opportunities to view real-world applications of STEM, it encouraged them to push past their boundaries as they plan for their future.

At Jubilee Park Community Center, CodeStream Studios provided an out-of-school coding program during the 2017-18 school year where approximately 25 girls participated in a web development program that used HTML/ CSS and JavaScript to a build a website page for a business. The “graduation” exercise for this coding program was for the participants to present the website that they developed and to walk the audience through their coding technique.  We feel this program provided the students exposure to coding as well as confidence to present to an audience.  But most of all it was fun! 

Happy New Year – the reason for the resolution

The reason for the resolution:

Each year at High-Tech High Heels (HTHH) we resolve ourselves to continue to make the most meaningful impact possible. To expand our reach in the community by investing in programs that uplift female students in STEM; to nurture young minds through equity training, academic preparation and increased interest in STEM fields; and to fill the education pipeline with girls who will graduate with STEM majors and obtain STEM careers.  

As we begin a new year, and continue that mission, we reflect back on 2017 and the impact had. Below, take a look at some of our most cherished highlights, and remember the reason for our resolution, and the importance of the role we each play.

Happy 2018!



Announcing our 2017 Winter Grant Recipients!

We are excited to announce and congratulate to our winter grant recipients! Congratulations to the following programs:

Design Connect Create!  Our partner for delivering summer AP physics camps for girls will offer six camp sessions in 2016 in Dallas ISD, Mesquite ISD, Fort Worth ISD, DeSoto ISD and Grand Prairie ISD.
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) received a grant to deliver a second year of STEM Gender Equity training for educators in the Fort Worth ISD. NAPE training helps educators identify possible sour ces of bias, recognize the unique gifts of others and embrace cultural diversity.
Texas A&M College of Education and Human Development received a grant to provide a STEM camp for middle school girls in collaboration with the Wylie ISD SMARTgirls program. The mission of SMARTgirls is to expose middle school girls to a variety of engineering disciplines through engaging hands-on activities that inspire and encourage their interest in STEM.
The University of Texas at Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management received a grant to provide an IT STEM camp for middle school girls.


High-Tech High Heels is now part of the Communities Foundation of Texas!

We are excited to announce that we have established our own non-profit organization early this year, with an expanded leadership team and a new partnership with the Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT). All dollars contributed to-date will continue to be invested 100% in our mission and programs. All future donations will be held in a CFT fiscal-sponsorship account and will continue to be invested in our mission and governed by the bylaws of the new non-profit organization.

Our commitment to increase the number of North Texas girls entering a college-level degree program in STEM is as strong as ever. Look for more exciting news to come in 2015!