Girls and Geeks Take a Two-Day STEM Journey

An enthusiastic group of middle school girls gathered near our headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky last week for a two-day STEM summer camp, hosted in partnership with Best Buy’s Geek Squad at the Louisville Central Community Center.

Each day was jam-packed with different classes, giving the participants a variety of experiences with new STEM-related concepts and equipment. Guided by instructors, the girls experimented with 3D printing, html coding, online and technology safety, film making, and BB-8 robotic programming.

Before digging into courses, the girls divided into teams and chose names. We loved hearing their creativity come out even in this opening task. Groups landed on LOL Cats, Geek Girls, Megapixels, Digital Divas and Code Chicks – all aptly-named teams for a summer camp full of empowerment, inspiration, and STEM.

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Makers Gonna Make

“I enjoyed learning SketchUp for 3D printing. I thought it was cool because I never saw a 3D printer before,” said 11-year-old Paola.

In the 3D printing class, girls referenced systematic instructions for their tasks projected on the front wall. A 3D printer in the middle of the room worked on a product designed by the Geek Squad instructors to show the students how their models on the computer could come to life.

The girls began navigating the free SketchUp program through an introduction to architecture as they learned to build a house. They learned to turn a rectangle shape into a 3D image by using a push/pull function, and created a roof by learning where to place other shapes.

The instructor used a cardboard box to show a physical example to the students as they followed his step-by-step instructions on their screens.­

As the camp progressed, students worked with smaller objects and more details. They were able to model a table or a chair, and add color or different shaped designs on the object. Girls learned how to create a design with specific dimensions and explored more advanced capabilities of some of the tools.

As soon as the students got a grasp of the basics, they had a chance to play around and use their creativity to build the rest of their object, whether it be a house, a table, a chair, or something of their own creation. The instructors also recommended practicing with SketchUp in the future as it is free software.

Through the 3D modeling in SketchUp, students applied key math and science concepts, such as geometry.

“I’ll use this in my STEAM class at school because we are also taught 3D printing in that class,” declared 12-year-old Tiza.

3d pag computers 1From Film to Robots: Digging in to Unique Skills

A Film and Script class produced young movie-makers out of every student. Girls were invited to create movie ideas and act out the parts. They could barely contain their giggles as they watched their acting on film during the editing process, which was completed at the front of the room for everyone to see.

During the Web Know How class, Geek Squad instructors taught HTML coding and set challenges for the students to instill competition and encourage creativity at the same time.

“I can code now and make my own website,” announced 12-year-old Imani.

In the BB-8 Programming class, the girls started out “programming” humans to do simple tasks like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They learned that they had to be very specific when giving commands. Then they moved onto programming BB-8 droids to complete different routes like squares and Xs, and avoiding obstacles by changing speed, direction, location, and duration.

“I enjoyed the BB-8 droid programming class because I got to play with the droid and chase people with it,” said 13-year-old Juliana.

The students saved their final creations for many projects on flash drives, allowing them to show their parents at home what they worked on at the camp.   

A Digital Compass class rounded out the camp, encouraging safety when using their knowledge in technology.

“I know now how to be safe online and why it matters,” said 12-year-old Ava.

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Hope for a Promising Future

The Geek Squad instructors created a fun, summer mood as they filled the two days with chants and shouts. As soon as anybody said the word “cool,” a Geek Squad member replied with “very cool!” To cap off the camp, instructors handed out graduation certificates to recognize the girls’ new STEM experience.

“I can be ahead of what’s coming next,” reports 10-year-old Kassandra.

We hosted this camp to inspire young girls and show them a wide range of STEM-related opportunities they can pursue in the future. We are thankful for the support of the Geek Squad instructors, who gave affirmation when the students did tasks correctly and coached the girls to accomplish functions on their own. We saw a promising group of young ladies become accustomed to using their girl power, taking a critical step to help change their futures and their world.

This event would not have been possible without an incredible group of sponsors and supporters. Our gratitude goes to Metro United Way, Louisville Central Community Centers and Louisville’s first Gigabyte Experience Center, University of Louisville Society of Women Engineers, and Best Buy.

From Struggling Entrepreneur to Mentor: Charity’s Story

Mobile-focused Charity at her shop Fanchi Global Resources, with her garments making a colorful backdrop.

Mobile-focused Charity at her shop Fanchi Global Resources, with her garments making a colorful backdrop.

Meet Mrs. Charity Esezobor. She is a female entrepreneur, a mother of four, and a mentor to young girls in her community in Nigeria. Charity started her custom-garment business Fanchi Global Resources in 2016.

She had previously worked in an insurance company and later in a micro-finance bank. Then one day, Charity came across a store with beautiful fabrics that sparked her love for garment-making. From that point on, she devoted her passion to making attractive and affordable fabrics.

Charity standing proud as a female entrepreneur.

Charity standing proud as a female entrepreneur.

The year Charity decided to start her business was rough for Nigeria with the economy dip. The recession affected local businesses and made it a struggle for Charity to purchase more machines that make her products faster and neater. She also had difficulty with financial management and needed a more sophisticated stoning machine – critical for her work to stamp a design or graphic on a piece of fabric.

Charity and her two female apprentices embellishing fabrics with beautiful beads.

Charity and her two female apprentices embellishing fabrics with beautiful beads.

YTF came into the picture when we teamed up with our long-standing partner, Mastercard, to provide financial management training and mentorship to entrepreneurs like Charity. She received the professional education necessary to save more, keep accurate financial records, and make practical decisions for her business. She now has a generator that supplies power when the electricity supply is out. Also, Charity researched sources for the best market that provides affordable prices and quality material so she can retain and satisfy her customers. Since receiving help from YTF and Mastercard, her customer base has increased by 30 percent.

Charity using her electric stoning machine to make a new yellow, decorated garment for her store.

Charity using her electric stoning machine to make a new yellow, decorated garment for her store.

We want to empower women like Charity to have continuous growth in their field as they become self-sufficient and financially able to provide for themselves and their families.

Charity decided to take the huge step forward of leaving her job and pursuing the desire to be self-employed and create employment opportunities for youth in her community. Now, Charity is a female entrepreneur who passes the torch on to the young women in her community who have an interest in garment-making. She is helping raise the next generation of women entrepreneurs, making Charity an incredible asset for her community’s sustainability.

The two apprentices Charity mentors and supports in the garment-making business

The two apprentices Charity mentors and supports in the garment-making business

We are proud to share her story, and applaud Charity for being bold for change and standing firm by overcoming the challenges that came her way!

Launching a Life Vision With Family Support and Tech Training

Emmanuel (left) with his father and younger sister.

Emmanuel (left) with his father and younger sister.

A supportive family often provides love and encouragement to help youth reach their dreams, but at some point a child must stand on their own. Many of our students at YTF are at this crossroads, wanting to step out and learn skills to help build their life.

Emmanuel (22) from Imo State, Nigeria, is one of those students. He is grateful for the encouragement to further his education, supported by his father, a technician, and his mother, a nurse, and his younger sister.  

The First Steps: Technology Training with YTF

In 2014, Emmanuel enrolled in YTF’s Digital Literacy and Project 3E Training (Education, Entrepreneurship, and Environment). He was a technology novice and his teachers noticed a need to develop an independent mindset.

YTF’s digital literacy training helps students like Emmanuel develop proficiency in Microsoft programs (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), Corel draw, page-maker, internet access, and more. Emmanuel’s second program, Project 3E, trains youth using education and entrepreneurship skills to solve environmental problems.

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As he dug into YTF’s training, Emmanuel learned to appreciate technology from teachers like IFeoma (pictured above).  

Emmanuel now believes that, with technology, things are being done faster and easier to achieve a better results.

“YTF has really brought joy to my life both academically and morally,” said Emmanuel. “After my enrollment in YTF, I became conversant with anything that has to do with ICT.”

YTF ultimately provided him with skills that have helped guide his steps and launch his life vision.

Launching a Vision: How YTF Inspires and Equips Future Leaders

Emmanuel was able to secure a job using the independent search skills he learned with YTF. He is currently working as a computer instructor in Learners’ Nursery and Primary School in New Owerri and in the media department of his church. In addition, during his term examinations, Emmanuel goes to the schools in his neighborhood, collects exam papers, and helps type and print them out.

Recently, Emmanuel received admission to study Education Economics at Alvan Ikoku College of Education.

This is all part of Emmanuel’s life vision, inspired by YTF’s Project 3E program. He hopes to become one of the best economists in Nigeria and Africa at large. YTF’s training has not only helped him set a ambitious vision, but also create a path to achieve it. After learning the benefits of being self-employed, he hopes to start his own business as soon as he graduates from university — a business funded by his current job.

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Emmanuel is no longer looking to his parents for any financial assistance. He is independent; providing for his needs in school on his own and even helping out his family. His parents are proud of his work and his potential.

This International Day of Families, we recognize the importance of family support. We know our role in providing education to develop sustainable lifestyles is only possible within a greater ecosystem, and students are often emboldened and successful when they have a supportive family. 

Want to help more people like Emmanuel surround themselves in a support system of technology training and business skills? Find opportunities with YTF.

Stepping it Up in STEM Education: Q&A with Peace  

In a brightly-lit room, a group of students engage in an interactive education with the computers provided by YTF in Owerri, Nigeria. For nine years and counting, current teacher Peace continues her story with our organization from student and participant in her first three years to an employee inside many other rooms in the last six years. This Girls in ICT Day, we want to share her story with a Q&A session geared specifically towards her experience as a Program Manager throughout Nigeria and empowering young girls to pursue their passion in science.

Peace, Program Coordinator in Nigeria

Peace, Program Coordinator in Nigeria

 

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I am a mentor to dozens of girls and young women with the focus of inspiring them as the next generation of innovators. I believe that we make a living by what we get and get a life by what we give. I love reading about new inventions, mentoring, and travelling. I have served in various capacities implementing STEM projects especially with the focus to foster girls’ interest in STEM. I have always loved technological inventions. Technology makes life easier and connects the world. We can see the relevance of technology in every aspect of human endeavors and how it has relieved people of so much tension and stress.

How did you hear about YTF?

I heard about YTF while I was in the university (Imo State University, Owerri) in 2007. YTF had trained my faculty (i.e. faculty of Engineering) on the use of computers. After that training, I enrolled in YTF’s Tech Teens program because it was very affordable, almost free compared to what other computer institutes charged. When I resumed my classes, I found that YTF was not just a computer institute, but a family that is there to nurture youths towards achieving their goals in life. I received not just computer skills but also life skills.

Peace at a training session in Nigeria

Peace at a training session in Nigeria

 

Describe your current position.

As Program Coordinator, I have planned/implemented various programs that have impacted thousands of lives of youth, girls, and women throughout Nigeria. I also liaise with schools in YTF communities to develop partnerships and train students/teachers on appropriate technology, and I provide training on life/leadership skills for youth enrolled in YTF Academy and women in YTF communities. I worked with rural women farmers in YTF’s Agric-P.O.W.E.R. program to educate them on best farming practicing and access to agricultural information using technology: 60% testified that their crops were yielding better.

I implemented YTF’s Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs and Mobile Value Added Services program. This program has equipped over 10,000 women entrepreneurs with the necessary financial, business, and technology skills/capabilities needed to excel in their business. The program includes planning, recruiting participants, training staff, and delivering training to women entrepreneurs. Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs program resulted in 40% increases in participant income after applying the principles they were taught—this actually made me very proud.
I’m actively involved in Girls in ICT Day program—connecting over 400 girls from 30+ secondary schools throughout Nigeria. The girls were connected to female STEM mentors to encouraged them to pursue STEM careers and participated in 3D printing.

What’s your philosophy in teaching technology?

Technology is an integral part of our lives and few can imagine living without it.  As technology continues to advance and direct even more easiness in our lives, it is imperative that we equip today’s youth with the necessary skills so that they can be employable.

Tell me about a difficult circumstance you handled. What action did you take? What were the results?

My role is to oversee the implementation of various gender-related programs. An unexpected obstacle occurred while implementing YTF’s She Will Connect program. We had already strategized with secondary schools and universities throughout Nigeria to meet the program’s goal of training 12,000 girls/women in basic ICT and entrepreneurship skills and had worked with them to implement the program. Then in the middle of the trainings, the universities went on strike and many students vacated—you can imagine the frustration. The program had a timeline so it was evident that if I didn’t do something about it, I would be in trouble. So I had to put on my thinking cap. I had to conceive another approach that would help us achieve our deliverables. Instead of universities, we partnered with faith-based organizations and community leaders to recruit participants. Fortunately, we were able to train the required number of clients with impressive results.

Who has most influenced you, and how did they influence you?

I have been influenced by so many people, but the two people that have most influenced me are my parents. My parents taught me to be diligent, courageous, and optimistic; and most importantly to put God first in everything I do. They are generous and always eager to help others, their love, care, and motivation has brought me where I am today. Another person that has influenced me is my boss. I am inspired and motivated by her leadership style, commitment, creative and innovative ideas. Her dedication to work has made very dedicated to my duties at Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF). Through her mentorship, I have been able to achieve a lot. She brings out the best in me.

What if a student/participant doesn’t “get it?” What do you do to help them understand?

If a student doesn’t get it in class, I arrange a private class for her where I will try to teach her at her pace and also use examples that she is familiar with.

Peace and Prince, a student of YTF Academy

Peace and Prince, a student of YTF Academy

 

 

What’s the difference in teaching ICT to the different age groups?

Each age group has a unique way of assimilation. It’s a lot easier for younger participants (8-30) to understand ICT than it is for the older participants (35-55). The youths are eager to learn, enthusiastic and do not have much distractions, while the older participants are occupied with family, work etc. It requires a lot of patience to teach them.

Which student/participant has most inspired you and why?

The student that most inspired me is Edward Rita. She is 19 years old and she is from Imo state, Nigeria. She loves drawing and designing and has always done them on paper until she enrolled in YTF Tech Teens program where she was taught how to appreciate technology and use it as a tool for change. Her light bulb moment was her ability to design on the computer and also emailing her design to her aunt. She felt very elated when her aunt showered her with praises. She loves designing and technological tools like the computer has made it more fun, easier, and interesting

With this ICT Girls Day, what’s your takeaway with the discussion happening in Empower Women?

Being part of the moderators on the e-discussion on science, technology, and innovation (STI) is a great opportunity to brainstorm with others on the future of STI. Let’s #stepitup by moving from teaching young girls STEM to taking young girls to STEM. Let them see real life application of science, technology, and innovation. It’s time to take a more proactive approach towards gender equality such as changing STEM education. Let’s step away from teaching STI to a more practical approach thereby creating an enabling environment for girls to see STI in action such as what YTF does on Girls in ICT day Celebrations.

Sparking a STEM Career During Spring Break: YTF’s 3D Printing Academy for Girls

Most girls in the U.S. report an interest in STEM fields, but only 24 percent of women currently in the workforce have a STEM job. Women are even less represented in engineering– only 15 percent of that field is female.

To help close that gap, we commit to empowering girls from an early age to continue developing their interests in STEM careers. We found one model to help take that interest and turn it into a tangible career path – 3D printing.

Earlier this month we opened the doors to our second 3D Printing Academy for Girls spring break camp at our U.S. headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky led by an all-female YTF staff.

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Our group of young engineers jumping for joy after showing off their experience to their close ones on family day.

Girls from the area, ages 11-14, were equipped with laptops that included TinkerCAD and Fusion 360 software, prepped to design and print objects on a Cubify or MakerBot 3D printer. Inspiration and training filled the curriculum, from documentaries on inventors to live product demos, with the promise of 3D printed jewelry by the end of the week.

Empowering STEMinist Messages

Technology companies and organizations filled each day with creative activities and speakers to educate and empower our participants.

Our speakers this year included:

  • Angelique Johnson, a University of Louisville assistant professor, shared her career path and her work in hearing aid device development.
  • Mary Beckman, community manager from FirstBuild, spoke about being an engineer. She partnered with Sarah Morris, a University of Louisville student in the Digital Manufacturing and Design Program.
  • Mary Fugier from McNeel’s Technical Support and Training division taught how to use the Rhinocerous 3D modeling software.
  • Jennifer Lea, lead electronics design engineer at GE Appliances, a Haier Company, demonstrating electrical engineering.
  • Erica Nwankwo, design education evangelist from Autodesk, demoed special 3D printing design features in Fusion 360.
  • Sydney Dahl, NPI project manager at MakerBot, shared her career path and explained her role in creating MakerBot printers.

These powerful women painted an image for our girls of what their future could look like as female engineers. 

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Dr. Angelique Johnson starting off the week of empowering messages from female engineers with an encouraging speech to all the young girls at the camp.

The first speaker of the week, Angelique Johnson, showed admiration for the group’s willingness to attend camps such as this one and supported their passion to pursue STEM-related fields. 

“I want to stay in management to help other women in tech like myself reach their goals,” said Dahl.

Following closely after, Mary Fugier presented a Rhino Tutorial and showed the students how to 3D design a lemon squeezer.

Tools of the Trade

The girls were introduced to 3D printing at the beginning of and reviewed throughout the week through videos on the printing process and materials to help support the training.

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Our teacher Lily working one-on-one with student Chloe.

Other core learning activities included:

  • A computer aided design (CAD) tool used to create models for 3D printing, called TinkerCAD, was introduced to begin making 3D objects. 
  • Another CAD tool, Rhino, where students typed in commands to create a collage of simple objects.
  • The OzoBlockly robot programming platform, with which students
  • Web programming introductions using Komodo IDE, FileZilla, and GoDaddy. 
  • Basic sketching and how to manipulate a special digital design surface called T-splines using Autodesk’s Fusion 360 CAD program. 
  • Two fun class projects with TinkerCAD: making coins and creating a “diamond” ring.

3D Printing as a Platform for Learning and Exploration

The girls were eager to learn, ask questions, readily participate in hands-on activities, and actively problem-solving. 3D printing is a unique activity, working equally well for group projects and individual work.

One girl, Pragya, expressed many of her ideas freely to the group and became an outstanding team manager during a game-building exercise. Another student, KeAris, enjoyed making 3D designs such as her own name and even printed a design with the name of her nana, Norma. The flexibility allowed students with a range of learning styles to stay involved in their work and flex their creativity.  

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From left to right, Jazmine, Kaema , and KeAris taking notes during a lesson.

The week-long academy concluded with a final review and a proud show-and-tell demonstration for Family Day.

We at YTF want to absolutely highlight our partners like:  University of Louisville, Society of Women Engineers, Best Buy, PPG Foundation, Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, GE Haier and our technology partners including 3D Systems, McNeel & Associates, MakerBot, Lexmark and Autodesk.

Now, we’re excited to announce the next 3D Printing Academy is open to serve more girls in Louisville this June. Stay tuned for more information and future events on the 3D Printing Academy website.

The Skills Gap Up Close and Personal: Chiamaka’s Story

Secondary school graduate Chiamaka worked happily in sales at a supermarket in Owerri, Nigeria until they adopted a cashless policy and she was forced to quit due to her lack of experience with electronics. Fast forward six months, and Chiamaka has now acquired all the skills necessary to tackle any technological endeavor. The tables have turned so much that she now works at a technologically-focused company as a secretary, beloved by her boss. What changed?

Chiamaka in the middle of her classmates at graduation.

Chiamaka in the middle of her classmates at graduation.

This 22-year-old worker with no idea how to use digital stock inventory systems or conduct point of sale transactions on the computer isn’t that much different than others her age. According to a 2014 study by PWC, 96 percent of CEOs in Africa (compared to a global average of 63 percent) are concerned about the lack of skills.  

“In Nigeria, too many graduates lack non-academic skills.” Dozie Okpalaobieri, Director, Quincy Advisory Limited

At least two-thirds of unemployed youth in Africa are between 15 and 24 years old. Chiamaka did not receive ICT (information and communications technology) skills training in high school. Even if she had, technology has continued to advance drastically. Once she left the job at the market, she decided to enroll in YTF’s six-month program.

Once she left the job at the market, Chiamaka decided to enroll in YTF’s six-month program.

A Rejuvenated Future with a New Job

Our teachers noted how Chiamaka’s motivation and fast learning led her to high confidence once she joined the program. We provided her with internet access, a computer, a digital camera and other learning materials like practical booklets.

Chiamaka then had the chance to practice her skills as a YTF Academy graduate intern for two months.

Chiamaka second from the right focused on working her new-found skills on the computer.

Chiamaka second from the right focused on working her new-found skills on the computer.

After completing the program, a company called “FOR HIM COMPUTER” hired her as a secretary. This position builds on what she learned in YTF’s program and helps her further develop her skills in a professional setting. Plus, Chiamaka receives a round-trip transportation stipend each time she comes to work.

Chiamaka clearly has a desire to keep learning, with plans to attend a university next school year.

A Higher Education Motivation, Boosted by YTF

Chiamaka keeps dreaming of what she can achieve with her newfound skills, now hoping to be a world-class nurse in the future. We are so proud to see a student like Chiamaka go through a complete turnaround – from technology novice to a girl who can leverage technology to reach new dreams. 

We know hope remains for many other students just like Chiamaka, who is one of more than 100 YTF Academy students who go above and beyond in their studies. It’s not a surprising path, considering 96 percent of YTF program graduates go on to higher education within two years of graduating.

We at YTF see stories like this every day, and we can’t help but share our favorites. Stay tuned for the next student’s transformation journey.

A Supportive Community Equals a Thriving Business

What comes around goes around and a network of entrepreneurs keep the circle of support in the communities of Umudiator Village in Imo State. Mother and wife Mrs. Oluchi has the passion and creativity innate to support her trade. Since training with us, Mrs. Oluchi has also had a reliable network and the technological wisdom to continue a thriving business. Now Mrs. Oluchi gives back to the community and provides a tour of her workplace to YTF participants learning about entrepreneurship.  Continue reading

Problem-Solving into the Future: The Story of Priscilla

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Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the world’s next state-of-the-art inventor. Her name is Priscilla. She enrolled in YTF through her school in Nairobi last year and was further encouraged to pursue a computer science degree after high school graduation. Her career choice would be dedicated to inventing “tools that will continue making work easier for humankind.” In other words, her hard work would make other people’s hard work easier. She, like many of us, wishes to make the world a better place. Unlike most people, however, Priscilla can choose a course, no matter how difficult, and stick with it.  

She has the uncanny talent of going over unexpected hurdles that seem to have very little to do with her passion for technology.

“One of the hardest things I have ever found myself doing is passing my history subject in school,” said Priscilla. “I always found history class hard for me but one day I forced myself to study it comprehensively and I passed a very hard paper. Now failure in history is in my history!”

Through her hard work ethic, Priscilla becomes an innovator even with subjects that are not directly related to STEM education. She takes the scientific method and applies its structure to her environment. She observes and measures the extent of the problem on a daily basis. She presents her hypotheses, and after life gives her the chance to experiment with solutions, Priscilla comes out with a sound, firm theoretical solution to whichever problem she chooses to focus on, breaking each aspect of her life into a scientific process.

Priscilla on chalkboard

Problem: “I come from a community where most people are poor.”

Solution: “If I got the opportunity to change this state, that would create jobs for the youth and change their financial state, I would do it.”

Problem: “Political wrangles promote a country’s instability.”

Solution: “If I had the power in leadership, I would change political systems and the way people fight for power. I would help create a state that would promote peace in the nations.”

Priscilla with friends

Priscilla with her peers in YTF who also strive for a better world through technology.

Then Priscilla even wills her dedicated mindset onto her friends as she mentors them through their own challenges. Her friend Jane “hated biology in school, but after much convincing and a lot of practice and study, I was able to convince her otherwise.”

Priscilla doesn’t just overcome hard subjects; she finds a way to appreciate the topics and incorporate them into her life. Her broad knowledge of history, biology, and politics define as a sort of liberal arts student with a focus on technology. Priscilla even balances out her life with her prayer ritual that keeps her refreshed and confident in the morning. She says she “finds it refreshing to put her needs before God. I know He has me covered.” Priscilla allows different aspects of her life to all point her to education and achieving her dreams.

She prizes education highly and is hard on herself if she doesn’t try her best. Problem: Priscilla recalls one time when she “hid in the lady’s restroom for 90 minutes through a double lesson in school to avoid punishment of not completing my homework.” Priscilla said that it was “exceptionally unbecoming” of her and wonder how she could be so daring. While a rare occasion to her usual hard work ethic, Priscilla felt extremely embarrassed over the event and said that nobody would think she would run from her responsibilities. Hopefully, Priscilla learns that everyone has breaking points throughout their life and it’s what makes us human. Solution: We just stand back up and continue.  

Looks like we have a future world peace activist in the making. Will you join her in her scientific method of giving the world a better future? Click here to show support.

Best Buy Provides Grant to 3D Printing Academy for Girls

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Nov. 2, 2016—Last Thursday, we gathered at the Best Buy on Shelbyville in Louisville, KY to receive a grant from the electronics company. Chad Douglas, General Manager of this location, represented Best Buy when he presented the big check to Njideka Harry, founder and CEO of YTF. This award is specifically for our program 3D Printing Academy for Girls in Louisville, KY.

The Best Buy grant is awarded on an annual basis to encourage organizations to steer youths towards a STEM education. Best Buy provides the grant to multiple organizations throughout the Louisville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis area to multiple organizations throughout the years. This year, YTF was the only to receive the grant from around 60 other organizations that applied.   

‘“We want Best Buy to give back to the community,” said Chad. “To make sure they have the latest and greatest.”

Our 3D Printing Academy for Girls encourages female interest in STEM education through 3D technology to girls ages 8-12. We focus our attention in West Louisville, where the numbers are lower in participation in STEM fields.  It’s where 62% of youth are below grade level in science, which is 20% less proficient than the entire JCPS district.

WAVE3 News also appeared on the scene to cover the local story on how the community will be impacted.

Through the grant, YTF will be able to purchase technological equipment, software, and general programming related expenses for 3D Printing Academy for Girls. The appropriate use of technology allows youths to have the latest and greatest, and reach that untapped potential.

IMG_8888In addition, Best Buy is open to provide volunteers to mentor our participants when teaching 3D printing and is eager to provide space.

We are thankful and look forward to how we can further create a generation of innovators through community efforts such as this grant reception with Best Buy!

“My Desire to Learn Was Greater”: The Story of Beverline

We’ve all groaned at the thought of having to go to school in the early morning and repeat the mundane process of government-issued education. But what if going to high school wasn’t required and not many of our peers got the chance to attend?

Beverline, YTF student in Nairobi, Kenya

Beverline, YTF student in Nairobi, Kenya

Beverline is a form three (9th grade) student at Nile Road Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya. Our 16-year-old YTF student admits that “the hardest thing I have ever had to do is go to high school … and I did it eventually because my desire to learn was greater.”  She has taken the reins of her passion and looks to the future with hope in technology.  

Similar to the college experience in the U.S., where the wealthy have the opportunity to continue their education, going to high school in Kenya is a luxury. Beverline’s desire to learn was greater than any hardship high school could throw at her both from her external circumstances and her inner fear.

Of the youth in Kenya, students like Beverline who attend high school are a minority. “Over a quarter of young people have less than a lower secondary education and one in ten did not complete primary school,” according to World Education News and Review. Even before YTF, Beverline “always had passion for computers and their applications.” The mountain of difficulties that stand in her way don’t stop Beverline from continuing her education.

Big name issues such as racism, poverty, gender inequality, and low graduation rates hover over Beverline’s home in Nairobi. But the trouble comes too close for comfort when her friends drop out of school because their parents couldn’t afford the fees or when her own neighbors don’t have access to basic human rights, like shelter. “My community is deprived of proper housing standards,” says Beverline. The environment she lives in doesn’t exactly provide a road to success. Then Beverline has to undergo the usual nerves everyone experiences of meeting new people and worrying about the regular concerns of schoolwork and drama.

While responsibilities in the traditional sense are often reserved for adult life, many burdens are often left on the shoulders of society’s youth. Through her personal ambitions, relations, and knowledge, Beverline takes on the burden of responsibility in exchange for a future of possible success. Since her participation with YTF in April 2015, Beverline has seen many changes in her life. Her friends have gained interest in the program, she has mentored her sister and cousins on overcoming life challenges, and her family is ecstatic with her engagement in education.

Beverline2Beverline revealed that her “family is happy that during the holidays I am actively engaged in the programs that are beneficial to me in the future and that can help me make money if I was able to apply them productively.”

No matter how great the challenge, what matters in the end is how great the effort and how many educational resources are provided. The turmoil of fighting your difficult surroundings shows how education is key to fulfilling your dreams. This techie-extraordinaire wants to be an IT expert and looks up to television anchor and renowned journalist in Kenya, Lilian Muli. Beverline loves Lilian’s confidence and wants to exhibit the same composure in real life. Her journey is just starting out, but the possibility for success is there. If you want to help Beverline and girls like her achieve their dreams, there are many ways to show support. There are volunteer opportunities and donation alternatives. Even keeping updated on the YTF story and spreading awareness helps more than you know.

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”-Winston Churchill