STEM program targets East African Girls in New Holly

STEM program targets East African Girls in New Holly

Girls who want to study STEM often face a double-bind when it comes to balancing education and tradition. They can encounter cultural pressure when they stray beyond traditional expectations of gender roles. This goes double for girls who are from families that immigrated to the US, as they can also experience the social pressure of US traditions and customs when they honor or preserve their traditional values in their public lives.

Thanks to a grant from Google, East African Community Services (EACS) is focusing its STEM Enrichment Program on empowering 80 female students in the New Holly area to become critical thinkers with honed digital literacy skills, in preparation for pursuing higher learning and jobs in high-demand technical fields.

“We want to make sure young women of color have the opportunity to learn about STEM and the great careers available to them,” said Darcy Nothnagle, head of external affairs for the Northwest for Google. “East African Community Services’ robotics lab and computer literacy training are invaluable programs serving our local community. We are proud to help grow their work and excited to see the what the students in their programs accomplish.”

The grant from Google will fund a robotics lab and computer literacy training to encourage involvement of under-served girls of color in middle school and high school.

Children of East African immigrants and refugees are often caught between generations and cultures.  On one hand they try to honor the hopes and dreams of their parents to use education to become valuable members of the community. On the other hand, they begin to have vastly different views about “success” and what that means in America than those of their parents.

Because of this, they can face academic underachievement, violence, family stress and conflict with authority figures. The dropout rate for East African students is 28 percent. Twenty percent of the juvenile justice cases in King County involve East African youth. In response to these pressing issues, EACS is transitioning its area of focus to K-12th Grade Education and Youth Development Programming.

“There is an opportunity gap that East African youth experience in traditional school systems, and even within their own communities,” said Faisal Jama, East African Community Services Executive Director. “In our community, there are a lot of people that are serving our kids, but it’s not us. We make sure our professionals and our volunteers can relate to them.”


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