GALA: Girls in STEM
Friends of Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA)
Since opening in 2016, GALA has expanded from an enrollment of 165 to 588 students; with this growth, we struggle with accessibility of resources to all students –basic supplies so each student has sufficient hands-on time (e.g., microscopes). Many of our students are low-income; therefore, we need to provide equipment (e.g., Chromebooks, calculators) to level the playing field amongst all our students. In addition, we need to invest in more advanced equipment to broaden students’ understanding of real-life engineering and science applications.
Please describe the mission of your organization.
GALA’s mission is to provide a rigorous, college-preparatory STEM-focused education in an all-girls environment - fostering academic excellence, leadership, and intellectual curiosity. This kind of education is crucial given that women and minorities are underrepresented in STEM-related fields.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- LAUSD (please select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)
In what stage of innovation is this project?Expand existing program
What is the need you’re responding to?
GALA was created to address the underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities in STEM. Research indicates that all-girls schools have a significant positive impact on the academic achievement and self-confidence of young women; additionally, research consistently shows that boys are favored in math and science – negatively impacting girls’ interest level and perceived competence in STEM. GALA opened in 2016 with an enrollment of 165. Now in our 4th year of operation, we have 588 girls in grades 6-12. This enrollment expansion has created a huge need for basic STEM supplies to support in-class learning. Each student now has less individual time using available equipment. In addition to basic supplies, we need a host of new technologies to broaden the STEM education of our girls. In particular, we hope to better equip our makerspace – allowing girls more hands-on implementation of their ideas and reinforcing a deeper understanding of the material they learn in class.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
GALA is the first all-girls public STEM school in California, and one of just a few in the country. Our ultimate goal is to provide a competitive college-preparatory, STEM-based education to 700 girls representing the rich diversity of Los Angeles (currently 81 zip codes represented). We are making progress toward our goal. Although girls typically lag behind boys in STEM, our school has consistently met and exceeded standards in math (e.g., 6th grade: 75.23% Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA)). We’ve even won awards in aquatic robotics competitions! We also provide a well-rounded academic curriculum – with a strong program in English Language Arts (e.g., 6th grade: 91.74% (SBA)). In 2020, we have our first graduating class; 100% of our seniors are projected to graduate and 95% plan to go to college. As successful as we have been, we need more resources. With the help of LA2050, we can continue offering this quality education to help our girls succeed in STEM, college, and beyond!
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
STEM fields are male-dominated. Research shows that gender diversity produces greater organizational success in all areas of study/thought. Additionally, women often have more awareness of issues specifically affecting women and families. More women in STEM will identify new issues that need to be developed. Moreover, there are even fewer women in STEM positions of power/leadership. Thus, women have little voice in deciding which research innovations are pursued. GALA’s mission is to train competent, confident women who will eventually be in positions of leadership. Having a stronger voice of women in STEM is crucial to the decisions in biomedical research, engineering, the environment…and the public policy relating to all of these fields.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
Our goal is to prepare girls to excel in STEM-related fields. In a few short years, our enrollment has more than tripled. Having so many more students, our resources have been stretched very thin. With funding from LA2050, we will immediately be able to increase access to resources to create, design, build, and experiment – providing a much deeper understanding of the science our students are taught in the classrooms. With increased resources, we will be able to offer a higher-quality educational experience. We will measure our success in numerous ways. In the short-term, we will measure student achievement using the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Here, we plan to meet and exceed LA2050 standards in ELA and math. We will also be able to track how well our students do in receiving college credit in the 18 different AP classes we offer. Creating this strong educational foundation combined with a safe and encouraging place for girls to learn, we hope to see high levels of college acceptance, attendance, and graduation. Given the interest, curiosity, and confidence we hope to develop in these young women in STEM, we hope that this will, in the long-term, help bridge the gender gap that exists in STEM workplace environments. We hope to develop their confidence to become leaders in their field. To monitor these long-term goals, we plan to keep track of the educational and career outcomes of our graduates through our alumni group (which will maintain contact with past graduates).
Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?
- College matriculation
- Student proficiency in English & Language Arts
- Proficiency in STEM
Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?
- LA is the best place to CREATE
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
- Access to the LA2050 community
- Host public events or gatherings
- Communications support
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