Philly’s TechGirlz to Expand Outreach Into Chicago

The nonprofit, which connects middle school girls to career possibilities in STEM, received a $125,000 grant from CompTIA.

Participants in TechGirlz' 2016 entrepreneurship bootcamp present business plans at Villanova University. Photo by Maria McGeary.

Participants in TechGirlz’ 2016 entrepreneurship bootcamp present business plans at Villanova University. Photo by Maria McGeary.

TechGirlz, the Philly organization that’s connecting middle school girls to tech, recently announced that it will hire a Chicago-based outreach coordinator to reach more girls in Chicago.

The expansion to Chicago is possible because of a $125,000 grant from the global nonprofit IT association, CompTIA, particularly the organization’s “NextUp” initiative, which introduces teens to technology careers to spark curiosity and passion within them for STEM. Sound familiar? TechGirlz’ mission is exactly that.

“[There are] many more girls out there who need the inspiration TechGirlz and NextUp can provide to convince them to take a step toward a tech career,” said Charles Eaton, CompTIA executive vice president of social innovation.

TechGirlz has already reached more than 5,000 girls over the last five years here in Philly and around the world through an annual tech summer bootcamp and with TechShopz, a hands-on tech workshop. They’ve learned everything from how to design product prototypes to how to pitch before investors. Last summer, the Philly middle school girls in the entrepreneurship bootcamps presented business plans to a panel of mock funders at Villanova University.

“The grant means we can now take the model of having a community outreach manager, which we have been testing successfully in Philadelphia, and take this to other regions,” TechGirlz founder Tracey Welson-Rossman told Philadelphia magazine. “As much as TechGirlz is creating a self service model with our TechShopz in a Box, we are finding that we need to help seed the ecosystem. We see the roles of the outreach coordinator as bringing the elements together.”

Welson-Rossman also said that if the program can replicate Philly’s success in Chicago, the business model can be brought to other cities easily. And the partnership with CompTIA isn’t just bringing the funds. The NextUp initiative will also bring the global organization’s members and IT pros to TechGirlz activities as mentors.

“Our research shows that having a personal relationship with someone in technology is a leading factor in teens choosing a tech career. TechGirlz is perfect partner for us to get our members working with middle-school girls on interactive tech projects,” Eaton said.

TechGirlz will start by looking for businesses and organizations that would like to host TechShopz.

Welson-Rossman once told us that the revolution of tech starts in Philly. She was right.

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