Breanna Reeves |
Created by Shirley Coates, founder and president of non-profit organization Society of Extraordinary Women Inc., the Ignite Leadership & STEM Academy is a cost-free program for girls of color. The program was designed to support academic success, help girls develop personal skills and expose them to STEM academics.
The program is typically held in the fall and spring on Saturdays and runs concurrent with the school year. Due to the pandemic, California public schools have experienced a severe decline in enrollment across schools, according to Cal Matters. In April 2022, the Department of Education reported that enrollment had dropped below six million — a decrease the state has not seen in many years.
This trend appears to apply to educational programs like the Ignite Leadership & STEM Academy as they experienced very low enrollment this fall. Coates initially considered closing the program for the duration of the fall after only a few students showed up to the first few sessions. Instead of shuttering the program, Coates decided to develop a one-day festival that would welcome middle school-aged students (including boys, for the first time).
On Dec. 3, 2022, the Ignite Leadership & STEM Academy hosted the Technology and Aviation Festival at the California Baptist University Flight Operations Center in Riverside, CA. Nearly 30 students attended the festival where they engaged in a series of academic workshops led by Geographic Information Systems instructor Kennedy Schneider, Report for America corps member/Journalism instructor Breanna Reeves and pilots from the university.
Throughout the festival, students acted as technology reporters and were given press badges. As the students engaged in different workshops, they took notes on what they observed, asked questions and practiced writing articles. Together, as a team, students verbally contributed to a final article about the festival and their experiences.
Check out the article below: