I recently became aware of two programs being offered by Michigan Women Forward (MWF), a community development nonprofit group that is dedicated to empowering women and girls of all ages. The programs are being offered specifically to middle school and high school girls in Michigan. Both programs are being presented virtually (though they hope to go back to in-person in 2022.)
I spoke with the woman who is the driving force behind these amazing efforts, Meaghan Bergman, the Program Manager for UGOGirls and HERstory. She was brimming with enthusiasm for these programs, both of which have spots for 50 girls this year.
S.T.E.A.M. stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. You may often see this as “STEM” because not all groups include the “A”: Arts (an unfortunate omission, in my opinion.) Meaghan explained how she sees STEAM education as a gender equity issue because the arts are often considered feminine and, therefore, less valuable.
For this program, MWF has partnered with Motor City STEAM and it is opened to all kids who identify as girls and are entering grades 6-8 this fall. Girls in this program will be receiving two different “experiments in a box”. Last year, the first week’s box was related to COVID-19 and had the girls building their own stethoscope. The box for the second week was designed for them develop their own health and beauty product (chapstick, lotion, dandruff treatment, perfume, etc.) Part of the program was also to develop a smartphone app to market and sell the product they developed!
This program runs from Monday, July 26 through Thursday, August 5 from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Registration is open now. For more information and to register, click HERE.
The Virtual Visionaries program is for all kids who identify as girls and will be entering the 9 through 12th grades this fall. The program focuses on issues like mental health, confidence, leadership, healing, and dealing with trauma with a specific emphasis on the importance of sisterhood and community. This year’s theme is “Authentic Leadership” and helps the girls to understand that their leadership style may be different from what they see in the media. Powerful women leaders in the media are often modeled after men. This program seeks to show girls that they should be their authentic selves and develop their own leadership style, making change by being who they are. Part of this, of course, is developing healthy relationships with other women and with men.
The program features different focuses on different days. “Mondays are for ME” will provide empowerment techniques such as goal setting, stress management, self-confidence building, mental health awareness, time management skills, financial literacy, college preparedness, etc. “Boss Women Wednesdays” will provide guidance and support from successful, professional Michigan women leaders from various sectors. “Fierce Fridays” focus on the girls getting to know each other and sharing their stories.
In addition to partnering with powerful women leaders, MWF has also partnered with two other groups for this program. Community Financial Credit Union will be providing financial literacy training for the girls and HAVEN’s SPARK program out of Pontiac will guide the girls in developing healthy relationships with others.
This program runs from Monday, June 21 – Friday, July 2 and registration is open now. For more information and to register, click HERE.
You can learn more about MWF at their website MIWF.org and get an overview of their UGOGirls programs by going to MIWF.org/empower-girls.
Finally, MWF merged with the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame (MWHOF) in Lansing in March 2018 and it is now called HERstory. HERstory is looking for interns to help run and curate the museum. MWF is also looking for interns to help with the UGOGirls programs this summer. This is a paid internship. If you are interested in either internship, click HERE for details.