Funding Math and Science Projects For Young Women

In prior years, this community has participated in the Donors Choose Bloggers Challenge during the month of October. We've won the Bloggers Challenge in the tech category three years in a row with total giving amounts of about $30,000 each year. We were dominant in the tech category and a few other blogs were equally dominant in their categories. As a result Donors Choose has decided to stop doing the Bloggers Challenge and encourage the blog communities that were regular winners to do something on their own.

What we are going to do here at AVC is make November our Donors Choose Month. We are going to try to raise a bunch of money for Donors Choose projects this coming month. In that respect it will be a lot like prior years. However, there are two important twists (one borrowed from last year).

The first twist is that we are going to focus on science and math education for young women. We've curated a giving page for this community and we've filled it with projects that focus on science and math and young women. I have kicked off a month of giving with $250 of contributions to five projects. Here are the five that I selected:

Donors choose gifts 10-31

Our Giving Page is full of projects like this and we will keep it filled with them for the entire month. I am excited to be doing something real and tangible for young women to get them prepared for the world we live in. I hope you all are too.

The second twist, borrowed from last year, is that we are doing a Meetup on December 8th from 6pm to 8pm in NYC. The Meetup will happen in a public school in NYC. I will be there and I hope the Gotham Gal will be as well. We will have a number of NYC public school teachers and a few people from Donors Choose as well. Anyone who participates in this month of giving and contributes via our Giving Page will be invited to attend.

So that's what we are doing this coming month. I'm excited about this new way of doing this. The competition with other blog communities was getting boring because we beat them so badly three years in a row. Now we can make this all about our community and the projects we are supporting. We will launch a giving widget for this effort on the right sidebar sometime in the next couple days. Until then, go to the Giving Page and get started.

#hacking education#Science#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    Tremendous project, great stuff. I will certainly give.Thanks for this, Fred.

  2. Tereza

    Terrific!! Will give AND reblog. Awesome.And THANK YOU.

  3. ajitjaokar

    Great project. Just donated. keep up the good work. will blog and tweet as well kind rgds Ajit

  4. vruz

    It was great to hear back from the project I chose last year, I just wished there had been more I could do.Congratulations for this new initiative.

  5. William Mougayar

    Done, & looking forward to seeing AVC community friends at the event. I’ll be there!Fred- When will they expand that model internationally? They make it so easy to donate with such a low entry barrier. When you talk about scalability of web businesses beyond borders using technology, doesn’t this app fit the bill? Or are there legal issues that are more difficult to iron?

  6. CliffElam

    Full disclosure: I have two boys and one girl – the girl is my straight-A student (takes after her mom) with gifts in language, writing, music, and a fair bit of math ability. So I may have a skewed viewpoint.And here it is – girls graduate from high-school, college, and graduate studies at higher rates than boys. They do better in lower/middle/high-school, with on-average better grades, fewer suspensions, and lower incidences of therapeutic and psychiatric intervention. if I were going to aim charitable giving directly at women – and our family does with “Girls on the Run” – it wouldn’t be in the school/academic area. Girls already rule school, all the way through graduate school. (Yes, I know they are under-represented in math and some sciences.)Where women are still at a disadvantage is when they negotiate for starting salaries, raises, and promotions. There is also, clearly, a mommy-track issue still.So when we look for impactful charities, we look at class (not race or sex) as the determining factor in outcomes and apply cash towards that. There is a great program here in Durham (thanks Coach K!) where they take kids (boys, girls) who come from families with a history of not completing high-school and try to coach them at least through a high-school diploma, and then hopefully through a 2 or 4 year degree.-XC

    1. fredwilson

      that is default at donors choosea vast majority of the projects in donors choose are focused on innercity and other schools where the need is the highestso what we are really doing is investing in math and science educationfor young women in underprivledged communities

      1. Adrian Bye

        i’m glad to see you supporting donorschoose fred, its an awesome site!i assume its possible for me to support other demographic causes via your fundraising effort? eg i’m more interested in supporting underprivileged latinos but would still like to contribute to what you’re doing.

        1. fredwilson

          Give me a project you want to fund and I will put it on the giving page

          1. Adrian Bye

            i like this one a lot:…its low tech, but they’re little immigrant kids who could use some help making the american dream happen through reading.

          2. fredwilson

            i think that project is on my giving page already

          3. Adrian Bye

            i checked and unfortunately it isnt

          4. fredwilson

            we’ve added it now Adrian. sorry about that

          5. Donna Brewington White

            Even though I went on the site looking for the math and science for girls options, this one also caught my eye! Perhaps, because, to some extent, voracious reading was a personal lifesaver for me.

    2. Dave Pinsen

      Good points: if anything, boys are ‘disadvantaged’ in terms of graduation rates, academic performance in K-12, etc. More broadly though, I’d argue that too much charitable emphasis is put on education. We spend enormous amounts on education — about 7% of GDP, which, by way of comparison, is nearly double what we spend on Defense. And within education, a lot of effort is wasted trying to shoe-horn most kids into a college-prep track, as if 1) every kid had the aptitude for college, and 2) a college degree offers any sort of assurance of being able to earn a livelihood. I would ask: what happens to the kids in these euphemistically labeled “underpriviledged” areas once they graduate (or drop out)? How many former Donors Choose kids were in the audience at the Invisible Dog last week? How many are going to be making Twitter apps for a living? I wonder how much of charitable donations toward education are driven not by practical considerations but by parents who send their kids to private, de facto segregated schools and want to assuage their guilt for not sending their kids to public schools. What ‘underpriviledged’ kids need isn’t charity as much as it is policy solutions that will make it possible for more high school grads to make a decent livelihood. One example would be to enforce our laws against illegal immigration and to strictly limit unskilled immigration since, as Harvard economist George Borjas has noted, such immigration increases unemployment rates and lowers wages for Americans at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

      1. David Semeria

        You were doing fine until the last paragraph Dave.I agree that not all kids are cut out for college, but the fundamental role of any school is to bring out the best in an individual (everyone is good at something) and – above all – to instill confidence and optimism.Protectionism never works in the long-run. Much better to have kids coming out of school and aspiring to something better than unskilled labour (sic).

        1. Dave Pinsen

          “Protectionism” is usually used (in the U.S., at least) to describe trade policy, not immigration policy. But, since you bring it up, it’s worth noting that protectionism worked great for America from its founding until the middle of the last century. Unilateral free trade worked well for a while after that, when most of the rest of the developed world’s factories had been reduced to rubble. Not so much for the last couple of decades. See, for example, Paul Tudor Jones on the effects of our trade deficit with China. And it’s also worth noting that more rational immigration policies (i.e., ones that restrict unskilled labor) have worked pretty well for Australia, for example. Of course schools should try to bring out the best in kids. But that’s no argument in support of our current de facto immigration policy. And it elides how unskilled jobs provide a first rung on the economic ladder for many teens and young adults. Often the foundation for advancement and success comes from that first, unskilled job.

          1. David Semeria

            You should print that out and tack it to something on Ellis Island.Also, since we don’t know how Australia would have faired without its immigration policy, it’s hard to define a basis for success.Sorry for being rude, but I always kick myself for getting involved in these kinds of debates.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            I didn’t think you were being rude, David. No need to apologize. True, we can’t say for sure how Australia would have fared had it allowed millions of its poorer neighbors to immigrate there. But we do know that Australia’s unemployment rate is about 5.1% now, versus 9.6% for the U.S., and its government’s fiscal situation is an awful lot healthier than ours as well. So perhaps we should take 21st Century economic reality into account when we discuss immigration policy, instead of just making allusions to the Emma Lazarus’s 19th Century sonnet.

          3. David Semeria

            When times are tough, it’s normal to play the nationalistic card. It’s happened many times before, and was particularly evident in the build-up to WW II.The same is happening all over Europe.All I’m willing to say is Europe’s and the US’s current problems have less to do with immigration and much more with individuals and governments using debt to push today’s problems under tomorrow’s carpet.But we’ve strayed well away from the original topic of education.

          4. Dave Pinsen

            When times are tough, the smart thing to do is to ask why they are so tough. This isn’t a cyclical recession; we have deep structural faults (as do a number of countries in Europe).No question that debt was used to paper over those faults for years, but emotional appeals to Ellis Island, and now intimations of Godwin’s Law, are not good reasons to avoid thinking critically about the impact of immigration policy and trade policy on our economic situation today.We haven’t really strayed from the original topic as much as we have expanded on it. After all, the main reason (I would think) that Fred and others support educational charities is that they want young people to have a brighter economic future. Discussion of the economic challenges these kids face, and the limits of education in addressing them, seems relevant.

          5. David Semeria

            OK, that was a good reply.BTW, I almost put in a Godwin disclaimer but, given the context, I really didn’t think it was necessary. Just for the record, I don’t believe you’re a Nazi, Dave :-)I’ll try and be brief: the world as a whole is getting richer, just not the parts that are used to getting richer. This is the key to the whole thing. China is already one of Ferrari’s biggest export markets, and soon a middle class will emerge which also start to consume (that’s the whole point of being middle class after all).In other words, what goes round comes around. Technology is breaking down barriers all over the place. The first thing I aim to teach my kids (now 5 & 7) is that, unlike mum and dad, they’re going to have to compete on a world stage. This brings both opportunity and risk.Trying to ring-fence the employment market, or restrict the flow of goods and services, just won’t work in the internet age (and I don’t believe it did beforehand).Education is key – but, crucially, not in terms of just passing exams; rather the ability to add value. In some sense this dovetails with Fred’s posts about not needing a degree or an MBA to be successful.Like or not, our kids will live in much more competitive times than we do. It is essential that each child has the opportunity to reach his or her maximum potential. This is morally good for the child, but also provides a huge aggregate result for the nation.Education really is the key.

          6. Dave W Baldwin

            I hope David Semeria sees this also. Guys, don’t get to focused on immigration. Yes, there are issues involving immigration but we need to look at reality.The main point anyone starts out with is “Immigrants come in and fill unskilled jobs our kids could do!”The implied solution is to lock the gates and we’ll all be happy. Yet, remember the rise of technology and if a businessman can afford a machine that will move a box from here to there at lower cost, he will do it. With the machine, he/she saves money and the machine will be there tomorrow.Point is, kids need exposure to all things… and that is the reason for some of my recent ramblings on bringing together Art and Math/Science, doing it for all brackets, genders, creed and color.

      2. Gorilla44

        I know a number of electricians and plumbers that make $150,000+ per year. I agree with most of Dave’s email. College is not for everyone and trade schools should not be looked down upon like they are in our society.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          I’m guessing those electricians and plumbers needed high school diplomas in most cases to get into their respective apprenticeship programs. I wonder how many high school dropouts dropped out because their curricula were geared more toward college prep classes than toward practical, hands-on classes that would have kept them engaged.

      3. Donna Brewington White

        “What ‘underpriviledged’ kids need isn’t charity as much as it is policy solutions that will make it possible for more high school grads to make a decent livelihood.”I think both, Dave. The charity situations may be the source of a pivotal or defining moment in some children’s lives that will make a vital difference one child at a time. However, addressing the systemic issues is what will make the most difference over time, of course.I do agree that something must be done to provide opportunities for gainful employment. My sister is principal at a middle school where 90% of the kids are literally poor. College is not in most of their thinking and it will take nothing short of a miracle to get many of them through high school. Would be a shame for them not to be able to earn a living after achieving what for them is as significant an accomplishment as someone else who completes a graduate degree.

      4. CJ

        I’m just not entirely sure that Americans want the sort of jobs that illegal aliens remove from the economy. Secondly, I agree about high school but I also think that it’s unrealistic to think that a lack of higher educatiion, be it a college degree or some sort of trade, will generate someone a decent middle-class living. Labor is plentiful so without fundimentally adjusting highschool curriculum to reflect a need for specialized training of some sort, an increase in wages and decent jobs for HS grads won’t follow.Education is, rightfully so, a huge emphasis in this country but yet there seems to be a backlash against educated folks here as well. We’ve discssed before, the word elite is evil because it implies someone who is educated. America is ripe with people who want shortcuts and something for nothing or entitlement jobs, unfortunately the death of the American manufacturing push button economy makes all of that unlikely.

    3. ea cpe

      I’m not entirely certain your point about girls graduating at a higher rate than boys is true– especially in regard to math and science fields. Having worked in graduate and undergraduate admissions in the past, looking strictly at percentages, it’s certainly true that girls seem to “rule school” and graduate from high school and undergrad studies at a higher rate– but only in areas of liberal studies, education, humanities, things of that nature. In math and science fields, males are CLEARLY more dominant, presence-wise.Just my two cents.

  7. awaldstein

    I’m in Fred.Iffy on being in town that day for the Meet up, but the cause is undeniably right on.

  8. Cindy Gallop

    Absolutely delighted to see this.Now, if we can just get boys in high school to see girls who study math and science as hot and dateable, we’ll be well on our way to #changetheratio 🙂

      1. Tereza

        Awwwww…….You have me misty-eyed, Dave.Total time trip. Thanks!

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Great call, Dave. You never cease to surprise/amaze me with what you pull from the treasure trove!

  9. andyidsinga

    Fred, I’m surprised you didn’t say “but wait, there’s more…” at least 2 or 3 times in there. –big grins– Awesome stuff nonetheless 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      i’m not sure i get what you are sayingi went and looked at the post and couldn’t find that specific phrase

      1. andyidsinga

        The phrase from the infomercials :). As i was reading your post and looking at the donorschoose projects I the voice in my head was of Billy Mays’ ..the informercial guy.( Not at all to reduce the meaning and value of supporting education and kids – just a little added humor 🙂 )

  10. Gary Sharma

    Done! Terrific initiative, Fred. Thanks for doing this.

  11. Mayson

    Fred,Take a look at LilyPad: an Arduino board designed for fabric crafts: it seems to have generated a much higher rate of female participation in projects than other Arduino designs.

    1. fredwilson

      that is so awesomei just tumbl’d it

  12. Donna Brewington White

    Wow, Fred, this is really fantastic. Thank you!Once again, I’m struck by the coincidence of coming to AVC and finding that you’ve posted something that was top of mind for me or at least close. Earlier in the day, was hearing heartbreaking stories from my sister, a principal at an urban Midwestern middle school.What strikes me during these conversations is how overwhelmingly vast the need is in terms of providing future prospects to kids in these settings. They need sparks of hope in the midst of situations representing abject need. The fight against despair must be vigilant.I’m glad to see these donor’s choice projects and to have the opportunity to contribute — especially knowing that many of the needs represented are in under-privileged and under-resourced communities. It really is one child at a time, one step at a time.I get it that while the needs being addressed by these projects are in some ways miles apart from the discussions about how to expand entrepreneurial opportunity to a wider audience, this is really part of the same stream, just further downstream.Hmmm…now the question is how to end up in New York in December.

    1. ShanaC

      Where in the midwest? Chicagoland is drawing upon some programs at the U of C to get more students in those classrooms.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Rockford, IL

        1. ShanaC

          Send her this:'m not so sure how far they send “students as teachers” However, I know that UTEP requires teaching fellowships in order to graduate. (… I think rockford is going to be too far (it’s out there as far as western suburbs are concerned.)U of C also runs a summer program for math teachers to learn more of the fundamental theories underlying the math they teach, so that they become better teachers. I also know they sponsor a series of textbooks for schools as well. They’re decent.

    2. Dave W Baldwin

      Glad to see info being shared back and forth. Something to think about:Donna, you live close to Chicago. Responses then relate to what is happening close by, like what some students on the University level are doing to help kids focus and expand their horizons.I live across the river from the Southern Illinois (and I mean South). What are those kids supposed to do?The design I put on hold (when the Money Market debacle hit) is a product targeting the 7-13 yr old girls which would immediately fit into Education, especially for the Special Needs. I did this due to knowing the arrival of the delivery vehicle for such a thing that would cost less than $100 would come soon. My CSO didn’t believe it back then…now you can find any number of articles regarding this, especially from the developing world.Our problem is we need to open collaboration across the board. If you are a school in a rural community, the pressures of the ‘No Child’ bear down. Then we end up with helpful tools that truly are within reach of those kids, yet due to lack of knowledge on the part of the School Board, it is assumed the whatever amount of $$ spent on a few computers does the job….but no real game plan.David Cohen recently talked to the Middle School in his area (Boulder)…he was shocked over how much the 6-8th graders knew and the questions they asked regarding entrepreneurship. We can push the curriculum to do things more on the level of using 4 days of the week teaching the lesson and 1 day discussing how it applies (using combination of rudiments).I like Fred’s response regarding the realities of sending his kids to private and impying that does not mean he is against public. We need to cross share knowledge and experience…the student’s attention span is there, we just need to give them something to focus on.

  13. Sue Marks

    I’m a geek mom with 2 geek daughters (and a geek son) and will be supporting this cause. Thanks Fred! As you know, the Geek Girl Camps are awesome and The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) has some awesome programs –

  14. rachelsklar

    Ratio-changing + DonorsChoose = Is it Halloween or Christmas?! Oh wait I’m Jewish. Never mind, this is an awesome initiative. Thank you. I will for sure support.A note on all those jumping in saying we have to look for root causes: Duh. That’s the same argument I hear over and over again re: Change the Ratio. “Doing something” means doing something everywhere along the chain, great and small. As Fred pointed out, DonorsChoose already targets needy schools and schoolchildren – there’s no project you can donate to that isn’t worthy, and each promises and provides specific, tangible benefits to kids. I’ve donated to provide things like balls for gym class and computer paper – simple stuff that I took for granted in school when I was a kid. Really the bottom line is, this will help. It won’t solve the problem of poverty in one grand sweep, but it will make a real, concrete difference for real, actual people in an area of real, demonstrated need. There is no debate about that.

  15. baba12

    Wonder how many readers of this post and those who are in the VC business living in NYC send their kids to public schools. It is one thing to be charitable and want to give to education. I wonder if Mr.Wilson sent his kids to NYC public schools.Money is not the reason why we have some poorly performing public schools, reasons are the social structures that provide the foundations for a child’s growth are not always healthy. We in the the U.S. have vehemently stated that everything that happens is individual choice, tough luck and we basically don’t look at things from a progressive mindset.In my neighborhood in Brooklyn we are running technical programs for kids to become programmers and technicians, we shall how well these kids perform in 3-5 years.

    1. fredwilson

      i do not send my kids to public schoolsbut i gladly pay my share of taxes so that others cani also participate on the board of organizations like donors choosethat contribute directly to public schoolsand my wife does the same with MOUSE, which she chaired for a number of yearsi also have been working with NYC to upgrade the STEM curriculum inthe public schools with an emphasis on computer sciencei am a product of public schools and i wish i could send my kids to them as wellbut the ratio of one teacher to thirty plus kids versus two teachersto sixteen or eighteen kids is just too much to ask if you have themeans to afford private schools

  16. Holly Hamann

    Thanks for this great post, Fred. The conversation on how to get more young women is a hot topic in our local entrepreneurial community in Boulder, CO as well. I was a math major (minor in computer science) and it was the best choices I ever made. Only 3 students in some of my senior year math classes (2 of us women). Math and science develops critical thinking and analytical skills and as a greater link to creativity than most people think.I made a donation to one of your giving projects (a math one, of course!). Will tweet and post, as well!

  17. ShanaC

    This deserves a :)Now if only we could get more women like a good friend of mine who can talk to little kids about how math and comp sci is relatable to their worlds.

  18. UVAgrl928

    Please consider our classroom’s math project! We work really trying to find hands-on activities to do in our math classroom.

  19. Jenny

    Math & science education for girls is a great cause, as it is for all kids, boys and girls, who come from low-income, low-education backgrounds and won’t get the STEM spark if they don’t get it at school. What most inspires kids to want to learn are hands-on projects, plus interesting books – not textbooks. I think girls can often benefit even more than boys from hands-on math and science, since they are likely to have fewer technical experiences outside school, and may find practical, real-life applications especially motivating.By far most girls in the U.S. attend co-ed schools, so for my contribution to Fred’s challenge, I selected a range of hands-on math and science projects in such schools, plus requests for engaging math and science-related books like “Agnes Pflumm and the Stone Creek Science Fair,” which kids love (it teaches the scientific method through a story about a class doing science projects), and “Hot Zone,” the true story of the Ebola virus, which the teacher requesting it says inspired her to go into science. I chose great projects likely to inspire low income girls and boys to carry an enthusiasm for STEM subjects into their later schooling.Also, I chose projects which critically need donations, as they are nearing their expiration dates after waiting months for notice amid the tens of thousands of DonorsChoose requests. Donors over the coming days are their last chance. The projects are now on Fred’s giving page, and I hope that some of them will reach full funding.

    1. Jenny

      DonorsChoose has been having a sitewide problem with Giving Pages for the last few hours; all pages accessed through regular Giving Page links display default projects, while the actual projects belonging to a page are sitting in its Completed Projects area (not that they’re completed – they’re just sitting there).Here’s a link to Fred’s Giving Page which not only correctly lists the projects on the page, but also provides full searchability by time remaining, cost, state, school subject, etc.

  20. Emily Gonzales

    Thanks for creating this program Fred! I chose Empowering Fourth Grade Girls Through Technology because a MM projector can be used by others as well and it’s a good example of technology – let’s expose them as much as possible!Found the exact same projector and model that they’re trying to get:…It’s about $80 less expensive than what the project site is estimating. Just in case they fall short of their goal and think they can’t it, maybe you can let them know? I tried to find a way to comment / contact on the project site but couldn’t find one.