Through funding support, in-kind product donations and employee volunteerism, Zoom Cares partnered with STEM From Dance (SFD) to empower girls to become the next generation of STEM leaders. Learn more about SFD and Zoom Cares’ impact below.
SFD, headquartered in New York City, uses dance to empower, educate, and encourage girls to be the next generation of engineers, scientists, and techies. Through SFD programming, students build confidence through dance and create challenging, technology-infused performances – ultimately building the skills needed for a future in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
SFD recognizes that many minority girls from low-income areas do not dream of becoming scientists or engineers – not because they are uninterested or incapable, but because they don’t have the necessary preparation, resources or exposure to the infinite possibilities of careers in STEM. Knowing Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) youth are often the hardest to reach, in part due to the burdens associated with generational poverty, marginalization, and social injustice, SFD aims to provide them STEM education through the creative and confidence-building aspects of dance.
SFD envisions a future powered by a STEM workforce – which features some of the most high-impact and lucrative jobs in the U.S.– that is just as diverse as the U.S. population. SFD offers high-touch, weekly, school-year residencies, intensive summer programming, and ongoing alumni initiatives that utilize dance to introduce girls of color to computer science while building confidence and STEM awareness.
Over the course of these programs, girls choreograph an original dance for a performance showcase, enhanced with a technological component that they learn to code throughout the semester. The technological component can be a computer-programmed animation that serves as a digital backdrop and synchronized to movement, an original song that is created through coding, or a costume with LED lights programmed to accompany their choreography.
“STEM From Dance was instrumental in building my confidence as a Black woman in professional spaces largely dominated by white men. SFD showed me that there are things I can create once I apply myself and believe in my analytical abilities. If not for SFD, I would not have been able to find my passions. I will forever be grateful to this organization and all it has taught me, both from a STEM perspective as well as a personal development perspective.”Jonay, STEM From Dance Alumna, Current College Sophomore
SFD & Zoom Cares
The pandemic presented challenges for SFD, which had only operated in-person until then. Through a donation of Zoom technology and multi-year grant from Zoom Cares, SFD’s programming remained virtual or hybrid throughout the first half of 2021. Instructors saw girls dancing in backyards, hallways, living rooms, and bedrooms, sharing their creations with each other through the magic of Zoom. Over the summer, SFD was able to bring together girls from nine different states through Zoom to share, collaborate, and learn. SFD kept its momentum going despite COVID-19 challenges through virtual connection via Zoom, which allowed the organization to build community during a stressful and ever-changing time in an environment of positivity, joy, and artistic creation.
Additionally, Team4Tech guided Zoomies through a social impact problem-solving workshop focused on broadening SFD’s reach through expanded virtual programming. Zoomies proposed several unique ideas: ways to leverage a learning management system to blend in-person with online learning, a regional hub model, and how Zoom platforms such as Zoom Events can help elevate SFD’s online presence.
How SFD Delivers Impact
As SFD celebrates ten years of empowering girls, the organization is expanding its efforts to reach even more girls across the country and world. In the next three years, SFD plans to deepen its impact by creating a comprehensive school-to-career STEM pipeline, becoming a thought leader around the intersection of STEM and performance arts, and establishing a larger national and global presence.
“As STEM From Dance approaches its 10th Anniversary, we celebrate not only this momentous past year, but what we have accomplished – together – in the past decade. In 2008, I was a freshman at MIT and found myself to be one of the few Black women in my mechanical engineering class. When I look back at that moment now, I recognize it as the beginning of my movement. A movement that evolved into an idea; an idea that became an organization; an organization that opened up to a classroom of girls who were, like me on that first day at MIT, both nervous and excited about what was possible for their future.”Yamilée Toussaint Beach, STEM From Dance Founder & CEO
Over the last decade, STEM From Dance has served 1,088 girls in a total of 14 states and 3 countries.
Most recent results from the 2021 Annual Report include:
- 90% of participants have a better understanding of STEM compared to when they started SFD
- 85% of participants know more about STEM jobs compared to when they started SFD
- 84% of parents noticed improvements in how their student thinks about their STEM potential compared to when they started SFD
- 79% of participants are more confident in their ability to solve problems after completing SFD
“STEM From Dance was instrumental in building my confidence as a Black woman in professional spaces largely dominated by white men. If not for SFD, I would not have been able to find my passions.”
— Jonay, STEM From Dance alumna, current college sophomore