StreetCode's Makerspace Electronics Class
Summer Session 2018 began with a major challenge to our ability to improvise! For several years g2W shared a spacious corner-lot property in East Palo Alto with sister social services nonprofit Family Connections, but in May – about 6 weeks before the start of Summer Session -- Family Connections decided against renewing its portion of the lease. We weren’t able to carry the entire cost on our own, but fortunately, we retain program space at the site, albeit considerably reduced in square footage. And our supporters probably don’t need to be told what has transpired on The Peninsula over the past decade with respect to skyrocketing property values & rents, intense competition for anything with a roof on it, and the impacts of same on local community-based organizations.
For the same reason, retaining regular staff at the wages which we can afford has become literally untenable, as lower-income folks are finding it necessary to move to the margins of the Bay Area or the Central Valley, in communities like Antioch, Stockton, and Tracy.
Our indefatigable Founder/Director Patricia Foster nevertheless has persevered, lining-up programming for low-income girls in our community which can be housed at existing local schools, community centers, and other youth-serving facilities, such as:
- Oxford Day Academy, East Palo Alto
- College Track, East Palo Alto
- StreetCode Academy
- The City of Menlo Park’s Recreation Program
This was the case for Summer Session 2018. We provided two major program activities:
Digital Photography/Digital Storytelling Activity, ‘Your Story Is My Story:’
8 High School (9 grade) students from East Palo Alto’s Oxford Day Academy attended 9 weekly one and a half hour art photography classes. Taking inspiration from Tarana Burke's #Me Too movement (see following weblink) and Michelle Obama's powerful 2015 speech to young Muslim girls (link to YouTube clip follows), participants explored topics of sexual violence, body image pressures, and racism. Through photography and other visual arts mediums, students created campaign messages that advocate for young women and their rights for a safe and healthy environment. The workshop ended with a student run showcase to display their final art piece to their schools and community. The Girls presented their works of art and explained how it related to the theme “My Story is Your Story.”
Participants built the following skills in a safe environment:
- Self-reflection and self-expression;
- Presentation skills;
- Creative thinking;
- Digital photography;
The exhibit is still on display at Menlo Park's Cafe Zoe as of this writing.
Summer ‘Makerspace Camp’ at StreetCode Academy, Menlo Park.
14 low-income elementary- and middle-school students, 2 boys and 12 girls (ages 7 through 12) attended six weekly sessions between late June through July. In Makerspace, students focus on Science Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) fields outside of computer science, such as:
- Design and execution of 3-D printing for objects ranging from vinyl t-shirts to audio speakers, skateboards, and even a projector! Others learned how to design & created original clothing using conventional fabrics;
- Explorations of electrical and mechanical engineering principles and simple fabrication of items such as small solar-powered appliances;
- Students bridged over to elementary software code-writing workshops and the use of digital media applications such as PC Paint™ and Scratch™.
The primary objective was to help students grow creative agency and passion for learning, in addition to learning technical skills. It was quite gratifying to witness the sense of capability and empowerment which our young technology mavens gained from the series.
At a time, and in a generation which all-but-worships digital technology and media, the (primarily) girls’ conviction that they were learning ‘cutting-edge stuff!’ as one girl, Jamilah, put it, was palpable.
And as far as we’re concerned, they are correct in feeling that way!
Along the way, Girls to Women Summer 2018 Staff -- Sarah Hoffman, a senior at Palo Alto University, and Jailah Francis, a g2W alumna and now a sophomore at Canada College, received 30 hours of professional development training through the Children's Health Council’s Ravenswood School District Initiative, Spring 2018.
We also provided logistical support and financial aid to the families of 5 low-income girls (ages 7 thru 12) to attend The City of Menlo Park’s Summer Recreational Program.
Yes, this is a challenging time for community-based nonprofits on The Peninsula. We're reminded of that axiom: 'Adapt or perish.' We're adapting, because the need for youth development services among low-income families under intensifying economic pressure isn't going away. Thanks to our community linkages -- and the continuing generosity of donors like you -- we're finding new and creative ways to meet our mission to 'support our community's girls as they design their futures for successful womanhood.' We can't let the girls and their families down . . . and we can't do that without your support! Thanks again.
Learning basic digital media software applications
Several girls became tool-empowered!
She designed and made her dress!
More digital media skills-building