Girlstart's mission is to empower girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Founded in Austin, Texas, in 1997, Girlstart is one of the few community-based informal education programs in the nation specifically dedicated to empowering and equipping K–12 girls in STEM. Girlstart develops and implements a range of innovative, research-based education and mentorship programs designed to promote girls’ early engagement and academic success in STEM, encourage postsecondary aspirations and persistence in the STEM pipeline among women and other under-represented groups, and develop a diverse STEM workforce for the 21st century.
Since its inception, Girlstart has served more than 30,000 girls and 5,500 teachers and families through school- and community-based programs—held at the Girlstart STEM Center in Austin and other venues throughout Central Texas—including afterschool clubs, summer camps, science career conferences and expos, large-scale science events for families, teacher workshops, online teaching and learning resources, and virtual learning communities
Through its Applied Research Initiatives Project IT Girl and Aiming for Algebra (both funded by the National Science Foundation), Girlstart also works to increase girls’ competency in critical STEM subject areas such as computer programming and middle-school math, and model a pathway to STEM post-secondary education and careers. At the conclusion of Project IT Girl’s three-year pilot (2006–09), 87% of participants enrolled in a four-year university, 80% are pursuing STEM majors, and 79% expressed intent to pursue a STEM career.