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C-STEM receives $2.4 million grant to usher in young Black girls into engineering and robotics


Black girls have a passion for all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), reports Afro Tech. But the STEM field has been known to have limited spaces for women, specifically Black women. Now, one organization is making strides to change the narrative. The UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education, better known as C-STEM, has received an amazing gift to allow them to tap into the resources needed to introduce Black girls to engineering and robotics at a younger age.

A $2.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation will now provide the organization with vital resources needed to equip participants with the skills that they need to excel in STEM throughout their communities, careers, and within their schools.

The Ujima Girls in Robotics Leadership Project will be led by C-STEM director and professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Harry Cheng; assistant professor in the UC Davis School of Education, Faheemah Mustafaa; and former board president of the Umoja Community Education Foundation and a senior adviser to the C-STEM Center, Teresa Aldredge. It has one mission: to teach middle and high school-aged girls about the ways that engineering and robotics can make a difference in their daily lives.

“This grant will illuminate the talent that our Black girls already have inside them and provide a safe and nurturing environment for growth and development,” Aldredge said. “I’m honored to be a part of this important endeavor for our community.”

When young girls sign up for the Ujima Girls in Robotics Project, they’ll receive free, hands-on engineering and robotics programs that will help them form the skills needed to thrive in the field of engineering.

The project includes a culturally relevant environment, which is key to allowing them to see themselves reflected in the STEM industry.

“This is an exciting opportunity to further encourage the creativity, leadership, and scientific genius of Black girls and young women in ways that many don’t have access to in their day-to-day schooling,” Mustafaa said. “I am hopeful about the mutually empowering benefit of this project for the participants, our research team, and everyone else involved.”