Introducing our 2015 fall grant recipients

We are excited to announce the recipients of our fall grants. Your donations enable us to support these and other quality programs that are closing the gender gap in STEM.

  • Girls attending Design Connect Create (DCC) summer physics camps will extend their STEM learning year round with the opportunity to attend monthly “Saturday Study Sessions” during the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Female STEM Scholars at the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) STEM Institute will become peer mentors and tutors to high school girls during the DCC Saturday Study Sessions. DCCCD STEM Institute serves students from underrepresented populations, including 36% female, 77% minority and 41% first-generation college students. Most of them go on to graduate with a STEM degree.
  • Girls attending the Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School will be able to participate in a First Tech robotics club, established through our grant to the Young Women’s Preparatory Network. Irma Rangel emphasizes mathematics, science and technology in a rigorous academic environment. More than 75% of its students are from economically disadvantaged homes and 85% will be first-generation college students.

We carefully select programs to receive grants based on their ability to deliver on specific criteria, including: preparing girls academically for successful college study in STEM fields; fostering girls’ interest, confidence and persistence in STEM studies and fields; and producing measurable results that show a positive impact on closing the gender gap.

NEW! The Eugene McDermott Foundation Challenge Grant

During our 2nd annual Friendraiser, we announced a new Eugene McDermott Foundation Challenge Grant, which will match all donations to High-Tech High Heels dollar for dollar from September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016 up to $50,000. That means your donation to High-Tech High Heels will go twice as far! Click here to make an online donation.

Save the Date! 2015 High-Tech High Heels Friendraiser

We are excited to announce the date of our second Friendraiser event on September 15th at 6pm at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Please mark your calendar to attend this exciting event to enjoy networking, a silent auction and much more while supporting STEM programs that benefit North Texas students. Stay tuned for more details and RSVP information!

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!

STEM Inspiration from the Gonzales Family

We’re so proud of Martha Gonzales and her daughters, Kristine, Kimberly and Karen, who were featured in an NBC5 story about engineering mentors for Hispanic Heritage Month. The Gonzales family has been involved with High-Tech High Heels programs for years, and they recently spoke at the#LatinasinSTEM101 conference in Dallas to inspire future engineers. Read their story and be inspired!

In the Spotlight: Q&A with Educator LaShonda V. Roberson

STEM Equity Training with NAPE

It has been a busy year for STEM equity training in North LRobersonTexas! With funding from industry partners and foundations including High-Tech High Heels, the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) worked with educators in four DFW-area school districts during 2013-2014: Dallas, Plano, Richardson and Lancaster. Since High-Tech High Heels brought NAPE to DFW in 2011, NAPE training has reached over 1,000 teachers, counselors, administrators and faculty in six school districts, the Dallas County Community College District and UTeach Dallas at The University of Texas at Dallas.

For educators, it is an eye-opening experience to learn how subtle, unintended biases in classrooms impact underrepresented student populations in STEM, such as females, Hispanics and African Americans. While bias is almost always unintentional, it can have far-reaching consequences for all students and can deter them from reaching their full potential in school or pursuing STEM careers. NAPE’s STEM equity training teaches educators to recognize the signs of bias and implement strategies to provide equitable education opportunities for every student.

We caught up with LaShonda V. Roberson, a middle school science teacher at Raul Quintanilla Sr. Middle School in South Oak Cliff, a school in Dallas ISD’s Imagine 2020 Strategic Feeder Pattern. Roberson is also a 2014 Texas Instruments Foundation “Innovations in STEM Teaching Award” winner. She attended the “Micromessaging to Reach and Teach Every Student” training, which was made possible by a grant to NAPE from the Communities Foundation of Texas.

HTHH: Why did you attend the STEM Equity training with NAPE and High-Tech High Heels?
LVR: I attended the STEM Equity training for a couple of reasons. First, to identify common mistakes teachers make in providing a fair and equal educational opportunity for all students regardless of gender and ethnicity. Secondly, to identify pedagogical strategies which will hopefully improve the representation of girls and underrepresented demographic groups in STEM courses and careers.

HTHH: What is STEM Equity training and why is it needed?
LVR: STEM equity uses research-based teaching methods to train teachers to empower and motivate underrepresented groups such as female, Hispanic and African-American students. The goal is that these students will pursue careers in STEM professions later in life. The STEM Equity training is needed because many teachers have biases that they may be unaware of, which often deters students from being interested in subjects they “think” are too challenging or not “meant” for them.

HTHH: What were the top things you learned from the training?
LVR: I learned to be more conscientious about what I’m saying nonverbally to my students, through my facial expressions and tone of voice. I also learned that there are a plethora of STEM careers that are accessible to all of my students. They aren’t as scary as they sound! Finally, I learned that I should take every opportunity to connect what we are doing in science class to everyday life as it relates to STEM.

HTHH: What was your favorite part of the training?
LVR: The presentation by the High-Tech High Heels speaker was a highlight. She is an engineer and shared her personal experience on how she broke through the glass ceiling. She shared with us the many educational levels and careers that all fit into STEM and really brought home how accessible these careers can be. I also especially enjoyed the STEM Careers Scavenger Hunt and plan to implement it in my classroom around our Career Day program.

HTHH: How has the training changed how you teach and engage with students in the classroom?
LVR: As a teacher, I tend to be very curriculum oriented to prepare my students for the next level. In recent feedback, it was suggested that I look for opportunities to reveal the many dimensions of all students in the room. It could be as simple as grouping students by “who likes salty versus sugary snacks.” This was an “ah ha” moment for me. In reflection, I realized that students need to not only learn science, but also to appreciate differences and to see others as multi-faceted personalities. I want to help my students develop their inter-personal skills so they can become effective collaborators with their future colleagues.
I am also more aware of how I interact with my students. Am I fair when I ask questions, make remarks, follow up on questions or remarks, discipline, praise, encourage, or instruct my students.

HTHH: How has the training benefited your students?
LVR: I am more cognizant of how my “micromessages” affect the classroom climate. I always want my students to feel supported and to feel comfortable making mistakes so they can learn from those mistakes. I want them to take risks, such as asking questions when everyone else is silent.

HTHH: How was this experience unique from other trainings you’ve experienced?
LVR: This session wasn’t about legislation, curriculum or testing – all of which are important – but it was about the importance of recognizing and removing gender or cultural biases that are sometimes so ingrained into our society that we are unaware of how they systematically hold students back and how this can affect generation after generation. I am very motivated to make STEM accessible to ALL of my students.

HTHH: What advice do you have for girls who are unsure about pursuing a STEM career?
LVR: I would let them know that there are a wide variety of STEM careers that require different levels of education and can match a variety of interests (i.e. indoors versus outdoors, associates degree versus doctorate degree). I would then point out some practical tools such as career interest surveys, Sciencebuddies.org or the Occupational Outlook handbook so she could explore her options.

HTHH: Is there anything else you’d like to add about the benefits of STEM Equity training?
LVR: Quintanilla Middle School sponsors an annual Career Day, and as a first time college graduate in my family, finding college-educated professionals to speak to my students has always been a challenge. However, this year I am reaching out to the High-Tech High Heels Speakers Bureau to connect with local STEM professionals to encourage my students to pursue a career in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math field. I’m very excited to have access to such a resource.