The Helen Gurley Brown Trust has announced a $7.5 million gift to the American Museum of Natural History to help encourage young women and low-income youth in New York City to explore computer science and coding.
The gift will support the implementation of BridgeUp: STEM, a program designed to address the downward trend in the number of young women and low-income youth studying computer science by providing them with educational and mentorship opportunities. Components of the initiative include a scholars program that annually will recruit thirty to thirty-five female high school students based on their interest in science and computers and provide them with a platform to acquire technical skills and develop a network of peers and mentors; and a fellows program that will recruit three to four female college students from science, computer science, or entrepreneurship programs and connect them to younger participants working to master the BridgeUp: STEM curriculum. In addition, fellows and educators from AMNH will teach afterschool programs for underserved middle school youth, while all participants in the program will be encouraged to develop research projects funded by “magic grants” from the trust.
In 2012, the trust awarded $15 million to the New York Public Library to launch NYPL BridgeUp, an educational and anti-poverty afterschool program for at-risk youth in New York City.
"The shortage of people, especially women, with [the] computer science skills needed in today's economy is something I am thrilled to help reverse," said BridgeUp: STEM program director Christina Wallace, who was founding director of the New York campus of Startup Institute. "The BridgeUp: STEM program will not only encourage community and pride in the industry but will also encourage innovation and discovery through magic grants."
"BridgeUp: STEM aligns with the American Museum of Natural History's mission to educate people about human culture and the natural world," said AMNH president Ellen Futter. "This generous gift from the Helen Gurley Brown Trust will provide the museum with opportunities to enable young people to acquire computer technology skills while anchoring this learning to, and inspiring them about, the wonders of science."