Solution Overview

What is the name of your organization?

Creating Opportunities for Girls, Inc. (COG, Inc)

What is the name of your solution?

COG Inc., H.E.R.S. Program

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Committed to exposing and engaging young women of color into various career pathways of STEM/STEAM

What specific problem are you solving?

Due to technological advances, STEM/STEAM jobs in the United States in the past ten years have grown at three times the pace of non-STEM jobs, and are projected to continue growing at this pace through the next decade. STEM/STEAM jobs require technical expertise, specialized training, or higher
education, making the typical job seeker in the United States underqualified for a job in a STEM/STEAM field. As a result, there are not enough qualified job candidates in the United States to fill all of these projected positions, even during this time of high unemployment.

The United States ranks lower than several Asian and European nations in math and science achievement. Eighth graders in the United States are ranked tenth globally in both math and science achievement.

Over the past 20 years, researchers and practitioners have intensified their efforts to promote gender equity in STEM/STEAM education through research-based advances in educational programming. However, research shows that there are several cultural, social, and individual factors preventing more girls and women from entering and having careers in STEM/STEAM fields.

Although the majority of college graduates and master’s level graduates are women, and nearly half of this country’s work force is comprised of women; there are some fields in which female representation has remained low.  Within STEM fields, women are not well represented in engineering, computing, and physics.  Researchers and experts in STEM/STEAM education agree that boosting the number of women in STEM/STEAM fields would expand our nation’s pool of workers, educators, and innovators for the future, bring a new dimension to the work, and potentially tackle problems that have been overlooked in the past.




What is your solution?

COG Inc., H.E.R.S. program provide opportunities for young girls, ages 9-19, to encounter directly how STEM/STEAM has a powerful impact on just about every area of our being and how foundational skills learned in school correlate to the real world and a pathway for college and/or career-readiness. H.E.R.S participants learn how STEM/STEAM can bring about change and ultimately increase the quality of life. Each quarter, girls will learn about a specific STEM/STEAM-related topic and its impact, while experiencing hands-on discovery through research-based exploratory activities, post-secondary experiences (such as college campus visits), and STEM/STEAM career awareness and mentorship.

Through initiatives and partnerships, COG has been committed to providing STEM programming to girls through activities aimed at engaging and cultivating interest in STEM fields. In addition, COG has programs to raise awareness about girls’ participation in STEM with communities and their leaders at the local, state, and national levels. Over a decade ago, COG embarked on being a voice for girls by sharing our knowledge and expertise to ensure that all girls have what they need to succeed in STEM fields.

The goal for COG, Inc. is to ensure that 100% of their participants matriculate to a post-secondary option that empowers the young women with skills and abilities to become a contributing citizen in our global society. The charge: “To cultivate STEM-literate workforce, one girl at a time.” As outlined in the COG Strategic Plan, COG will expand STEM/STEAM programs and services each year to include more opportunities throughout the vast spectrum of STEM/STEAM (from actuary science to zoology) and illustrate the COG mantra, “Everything is STEM because STEM is in everything.”

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

A seldom highlighted issue is the significant racial/ethnic group differences within the female gender in STEM/STEAM. African American and Hispanic girls say they have just as much interest in STEM/STEAM as other American girls; however research shows that they have had less exposure to STEM, less adult support for pursuing STEM/STEAM fields, lower academic achievement, and greater awareness of gender barriers in STEM/STEAM professions.

COG will target young women who identify as African American, Hispanic and BIPOC, ages 9 to 19. Although the participants are from various backgrounds, many are from low- to moderate-income families and reside in urban. moderate suburban and rural communities.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Creating Opportunities for Girls (COG Inc.) is a Georgia nonprofit organization whose mission is dedicated to providing exploratory-based education, career awareness, and active student engagement among girls through STEM-related opportunities. Over over a decade, we have used the process of experential learning fortified with core principles of healthy lifestyles choice, STEM mentorship, financial literacy, and the ARTS, along with research-based techniques to offer young women (and men) opportunities to enrich their STEM knowledge and skillsets through exposure and engagement.

COG Inc. provides a holistic approach to programming that closes the STEM/STEAM achievement gap and opens limitless opportunities for girls to become confident women who pursue and retain their rightful place in the STEM workforce.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

  • Ensure continuity across STEM education in order to decrease successive drop-off in completion rates from K-12 through undergraduate years.

In what city and state is your solution team headquartered?

Atlanta, GA, USA

How many people does your solution currently serve?

The solution currently serves 12-15 young women, while the program has had 80 participants over this current fiscal year.

COG looks to serve approximately 25-50 young women in the next 9-12 months.

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization testing a product, service, or business model with a small number of users

Why are you applying to the Challenge?

COG provides a holistic approach to programming that closes the STEM/STEAM achievement gap and opens limitless opportunities for girls to become confident women who pursue and retain their place in the STEM workforce. COG looks to engage underrepresented individuals from underserved backgrounds in the areas of technology and small business entrepreneurship, creation of technology start-ups, and STEAM and arts with an emphasis in the use or creation/manufacturing of technology or technologically-based products, and simply college awareness. 

Specifically, MIT Solve can help provide our STEMistas with technical support as Solve is an initiative of MIT with a mission to drive innovation to solve world challenges as a marketplace for social impact innovation.  The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is known as a coeducational institution of higher learning famous for its scientific and technological training and research. 

Although COG has legal representation, any assistance in overcoming legal or market barriers that we may face knowingly or unknowingly is always beneficial. These barrier may include continuous legal fiduciary and risk management trainings for board members and COG agents; code of ethics seminars; nonprofit governance law trainings; etc.

Need assessments identify needs and gaps that may exist within local STEM programming that potentially could prevent the program from meeting its desired goals. This assessment should be used at the beginning of the planning process and could be repeated at the end of the programming year as a tool to drive refinement. The results of the needs assessment will guide subsequent decisions including design, implementation, and evaluation of STEM programming within COG.  A comprehensive needs assessment to determine any resources or support appropriate for our organization can accelerate the impact of COG.

Along with an assessment, access to a network of resources and resource mentors across various industries and sectors; development modules aimed at scaling our programs for young women, especially women of color; and leadership coaching are all areas of support for our H.E.R.S program, and organization as a whole.

Certainly economic and financial support is welcomed, COG wants to effectively use funding to increase our actions in the community. COG wants to overcome the barrier of costs of activities; such as college tours itineraries, admissions seminars, and financial aid/scholarship workshops. COG also wants to make sure that STEM/STEAM engagement activities are covered with minimal cost to the participants.


Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Chuck Marable

How is your Team Lead connected to the community or communities in which your project is based?

Chuck Marable has been an educator in the Southeastern United States for over 25 years. He has 20 years of Science and Math teaching experience in Georgia public school systems, 3 years of STEM education experience in Tennessee, and over a decade of experience as executive director of a STEM 501c3 organization and STEM education consultant.

Starting his organization from the lens of a father and educator, he has taught, mentored, and guided students through various STEM/STEM pipelines in the metro Atlanta area, as well as other parts of Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama, for the past eleven years.

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

COG delivers learning opportunities, activities, programs & events to all STEM stakeholders, with an emphasis on historically marginalized individuals in the areas of STEM/STEAM. These individuals may identify as; but are not limited to, first-generation college students, female/female-identifying, Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native American/Indigenous American. COG participants will be inspired, motivated, and experience benefit from the training groundwork in an effort to adopt 21st Century skills.

Our solution looks to approach the issues of marginalization and interrupting our human bias as it relates to STEM/STEAM career preparation. By giving our STEMistas the training, mentoring, and hands-on experiences to help them understand the value of STEM to society and the options for their own related career paths. Girls see how STEM activities and careers are relevant to them through engaging activities and develop the four STEM outcomes, referred to as VICC (Value, Interest, Competence, and Confidence). These outcomes are important to any individual entering the STEM/STEAM workforce. Our programming, designed specifically with STEMistas in mind, promotes: a) understanding the role STEM plays in everyday life (e.g., being able to fix something in your home) and in making the world a better place; b) positive affect and curiosity towards STEM; c) ability to think scientifically when working to solve a problem; and d) feelings of self-efficacy (belief in ability to reach goals) in relation to STEM.

The H.E.R.S program activities reflect attitudes, skills, and behaviors that are consistent with the priorities of the larger youth STEM out-of-school time education community and important to long-term STEM engagement and careers for all of our future workforce. Our community-based STEM/STEAM programming is inclusive, yet focused on connecting with people where they are, in order to build STEM/STEAM career pipelines with diversity of representation. 

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics is a broad educational program that spills over into many industries and technologies, affecting everyday life. Yet, the STEM industries still have interruptions of bias prevalent in areas. COG understands that our programming positively impacts the entire workforce as a social benefit and has relevant importance for several reasons:

  • Providing access to STEM education and STEM careers helps alleviate disparities and advances social equality;
  • Creating diverse teams with a more well-rounded and flexible approach to problem-solving that more often outperform groups of high-ability, homogeneous problem-solvers. STEM is an area that needs creative innovators, and society can't afford to limit their perspective by only approaching problems one way. STEM enables the generation of new technological and scientific insights. A Deloitte study reported that cognitive diversity can enhance team innovation by up to 20%; and
  • There is always a need for STEM skills. STEM education is how countries remain globally competitive and a lack of diversity in STEM has the potential to stunt growth. Building STEM skills starts young, and so should the removal of barriers built by stereotypes and biases.


What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

By giving our STEMistas the training, mentoring, and hands-on experiences to help them understand the value of STEM to society and the options for their own related career paths. Girls see how STEM activities and careers are relevant to them through engaging activities.

Impact Goals for the next year:

To increase the number of STEMistas (young women participants) in our H.E.R.S program, as well as, other COG programming.

To increase the number of college tours (1) and COG STEM/STEAM activities (2) annually.

To increase the STEM/STEAM career and skills-knowledge base of our COG STEMistas.

Impact Goals for the next five years:

To maintain or increase the minimum GPA average (3.0) of COG STEMistas.

To maintain 75% of our COG STEMistas having postsecondary plans after 15-months of participation in our programs.

Continue to develop outreach programs and STEM/STEAM career awareness material that inform people of available services and inspire recruitment and participation (STEMistas and volunteers).

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

COG will measure our progress using a number of instruments. These instruments will be used to show our progress in aligning our solution to the following Sustainable Development Goals. These goals are: 

Goal 4: Inclusive and equitable quality education assurance and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all- with the notion of promoting education for sustainable development and integrating sustainable development actively in education

Goal 5: Achievement of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls

Goal 17: Strengthening the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development through Science, Technology and Financial Inclusion

COG will conduct a quasi-longitudinal study of our participants for a minimum of a year, unless participants leave our program.  This research will measure participation in STEM programming over the course of a program year, assessed their development of our STEM outcomes at the conclusion of the year, and measure the impact on STEMista interest in future STEM activities, education, and careers.

Our STEMistas will be administered pre- and post- knowledge questionnaires, complete surveys, participate in focus groups, share information in individual and group interviews, and their actions and comments noted in observations. We also are working on a process to obtain information from their immediate household as it relates to the program. 

Describe in simple terms how and why you expect your solution to have an impact on the problem.

The need to research the status of STEM for girls and women comes from continued concerns that the progression is not moving quickly in terms of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; and SDG 5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Within STEM professions and education, the unequal participation between genders at the expense of females is of concern given the loss of talent, perspectives, potential advancements and overall strength of the workforce. Furthermore, the low participation and achievement rates of girls and women can negatively impact larger societal progress as STEM innovations have incredible potential to drive sustainable development. The aim of the H.E.R.S. program is to promote the perspectives of STEM research in gaining a wider understanding of identifying, defining, and overcoming the barriers faced by girls and women in the domain of STEM/STEAM. 

COG’s programs are holistic and use research-based curricula that empower a strong sense of self, encourage healthy lifestyles, teach budget and finance and promote discovery while building skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. 

COG Inc.’s programming was created as a tool for both intervention and prevention. First, COG Inc. responds to the urgent need to engage underrepresented girls in STEM. Secondly, COG Inc. provides holistic support to girls that may be experiencing personal, economic, or even academic challenges. COG Inc.’s goal is to identify girls who may have an interest in learning about STEM and girls who may have or anticipate challenges transitioning from girlhood to adulthood and offer a positive support system to avoid the pitfalls that can derail their lives.


If your solution is tech-based, describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Although we may not identify as tech-based in the conventional sense, COG programming cannot function without the work that we do in the arena of nanotechnology and robotics; the use of drones and simulation; the power of telecommunications (such as ZOOM) in connecting with partners, stakeholders and the community, our new work in application systems, and the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in the various STEM industries that are introduced to our STEMistas.

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Audiovisual Media
  • Biomimicry
  • Blockchain
  • Internet of Things
  • Materials Science
  • Robotics and Drones
  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which US states does your solution currently operate?

Georgia

In which US states will your solution be operating within the next year?

Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama

Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Nonprofit

How many people work on your solution team?

Full-time: 1

Part-time: 1

Legal: 1

Contractors: 2

Volunteers: 3

How long have you been working on your solution?

We have been in the thinktank with this solution since 2021. We have worked on this particular solution in its presented form for 18 months, where the major barriers have been access to facilities and financial support.

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Team diversity refers to the differences between individual members of a team that can exist on various dimensions, such as age, orientation, and gender. We are an organization whose goal is to share the message that every girl should have the opportunity to have conversations about her education and career desires, and provide each and every girl with a support system and commitment to increase the participation of girls in STEM fields, encourage mentorship and ultimately cultivate girls into women who pursue and retain their rightful place in the STEM workforce.

The composition of our team is in the diverse way of approaching this task. Our leader, is a DEI consultant with certification from University of South Florida. He identifies as an African-American male with 25 years of experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through classroom education, pre- advisement, and consulting. His educational background includes degrees in Middle Grades Math and Science Education, Administration and Policy and Workforce Education; however, he notes that his greatest accomplishment and most valuable role is being a father to a STEM girl.

Although our organization is designed for young women, we also have programs that are open to all person as they identify and work to build a strong future STEM workforce.

Your Business Model & Funding

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

COG Inc. supports the mission of its sister organizations and believes that as long as girls have needs to be met, skills and gifts to be cultivated, and opportunities to take advantage of and organizations continue to make deep impact, there is a need for more opportunities. COG Inc. looks forward to networking with organizations who share similar missions and goals through the belief that, “our sum, is much greater than our individualism”.

COG has created a nonprofit sustainability plan that includes a section on financial sustainability as part of our current 3- year Strategic Plan. We utilize recurring private donors, grants sponsorship, commercial activity, fundraising events, and are looking into implementing fee-based programs to help sustain our mission.

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

COG has received grants from private foundations such as Clorox and State Farm. They have given various awards in the value of $2,500 to $13,000. We also generate income by selling COG merchandise and offering merchandise incentives to private donors.

Solution Team

  • Chuck Marable Executive Director, COG Inc., Creating Opportunities for Girls, Inc./STEAM Atlanta
 
    Back
to Top