Solution Overview

What is the name of your organization?

STEM From Dance

What is the name of your solution?

STEM From Dance

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

STEM From Dance empowers girls of color with the skills, experiences, and confidence to pursue careers in STEM — all through the power of dance.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

Women of color are severely underrepresented in STEM fields. This is a result of gender stereotypes, a male-dominated culture, few role models, and a confidence gap perpetuated by people around them. According to the National Science Foundation, less than 5% of STEM employees are Black, Indigenous, Hispanic or Latina women, even though they make up 32% of the United States population. Unfortunately, these trends start at a young age. Many girls, by 3rd grade, lose confidence in their math abilities, according to the American Association of University Women. As a result, many girls of color from low-income backgrounds do not dream of becoming scientists or engineers, not because they are unable, but because they do not have the confidence, preparation, and exposure to careers in STEM. 

This is economically disadvantaging generations of women of color and their families, continuing the cycle of poverty we see in too many Black and Brown communities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than 1 million STEM jobs will be added by 2030, representing 11% growth compared to less than 8% for all other industries. These jobs pay high salaries; the average salary for all STEM workers is $100,900, compared to the average salary for non-STEM roles, which is $40,020. Women of color are already severely underrepresented in STEM fields. Today, we are preparing young women to fill these roles, thus reducing the income gap between women of color and their white and/or male counterparts.

What is your solution?

STEM From Dance is transforming the STEM field by empowering girls of color with the know-how, experience, and confidence to dream big in STEM.

In our core programming, girls work together to create dance performances that incorporate STEM. They learn foundational concepts and skills in design thinking, computer programming, and choreography, and apply them to the challenge of creating electrifying performances that convey a powerful message to an audience.

Students are empowered to create computer-programmed animations that  are synchronized to movement and serve as a digital backdrop on the stage, or an original song that is created through coding, or a costume with LED lights programmed to enhance their choreography. A culminating showcase is their platform to boldly demonstrate their ability to dream big and develop the skills to turn their dreams into reality — on stage, in the classroom, and throughout their lives.

By combining dance with technology, we leverage its cultural significance in our communities to make STEM careers accessible. Dance builds confidence and fosters curiosity, resilience, and sisterhood, creating an encouraging and joyful STEM environment.

Our comprehensive school-to-career STEM pipeline consists of interconnected and sequential programs that provide a continuum of support. We start an initial “spark” through our Catalyze programs, which are designed to ignite girls’ engagement with STEM and our organization, compelling them to continue their STEM development. These are shorter, less intensive opportunities, like eight-week afterschool programs and Saturday all-day summits. Catalyze programs are designed to be the start of girls’ STEM From Dance journey. 

We continue this programming with Immersive programs, which are intensive programs to deepen girls’ engagement with STEM, really empowering girls to see themselves as part of the STEM world. These are experiences like our summer program, Girls Rise Up, that takes place daily over the course of three weeks. 

Girls can participate in Catalyze and Immersive programming as many times as they would like throughout the year. Each cycle of programming focuses on a different topic (e.g., artificial intelligence, electrical engineering, music composition, etc.) and teaches different skills. Because of our participant-led cohort-based approach, even cycles that teach the same topics are completely different from one another, depending on how cohorts choose to apply what they are learning to their projects. 

Lastly, we have Launch programming, which supports high school and college-aged STEM From Dance participants, so we can support girls to and through college as they solidify their pathways to impactful STEM careers.

You can see the program in action here:

Video 1, Video 2

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

STEM From Dance targets 8-18-year-old girls of color from low-income neighborhoods across the country.

To ensure we understand their needs, we listen to our girls. We give pre- and post-program surveys to all of our participants to strengthen our programming. We ask our participants’ caretakers, SFD instructors, and classroom teachers for both quantitative and qualitative feedback. We continually track our participants’ academic and social-emotional skills and mindsets to ensure that we are making a positive impact through our programming. We regularly analyze the data we collect and evolve our programming to meet the needs of our participants. Also, we take a participatory approach to developing new and existing programs by inviting students to participate in design sessions to offer feedback on new ideas.

Integrating dance and STEM is central to STEM From Dance’s approach, stemming from our deep understanding of the unique barriers that our specific target population encounters. Dance allows us to tap into our girls’ culture and deepen their confidence, community, and creativity. 

Culture
Communities of color have traditionally used dance to release, celebrate, draw strength, communicate, and learn. We meet them where they are and show them that they belong in STEM. Combining dance with tech transforms STEM careers from unthinkable to within reach.

Confidence
Dance transforms our girls into students who are curious, ask questions, take risks in the classroom, and keep going — even when it gets tough — and that confidence translates to STEM and beyond. 

Community
Dance creates a warm, joyful atmosphere that builds sisterhood, fosters connections, and lowers doubt, and makes for a STEM environment that is encouraging and inviting. Girls in our programs collaborate closely, forging connections with like-minded peers and supportive adults who share their passions and interests.

Creativity 
In both dance and STEM, they are creators, merging the two realms to produce captivating performances. This fosters a culture of creativity and ideation that inspires them to envision possibilities, not just for their performance but for their future. 

Through our program, we directly address and overcome the barriers of inadequate support, low confidence, a sense of not belonging, and limited exposure that girls of color commonly encounter in STEM.

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

STEM From Dance was founded to serve girls of color by Yamilee, a woman of color who leads the organization today. Racial, gender, and socio-economic equity are at the core of what we have been building over the past decade. 

STEM From Dance has a core team of 12 full-time members, and we have built an intentionally diverse team that shares the same neighborhoods, ethnic groups, lived experiences, and passions as our girls, providing powerful, professional role models. Our core team comprises entirely of women, with 50% of them being women of color. Each staff member is a true expert in her/his subject area.  We pride ourselves on our inclusive culture and create an environment in which everyone can share their thoughts. We make decisions based on our organizational core values, strategic plans, and yearly objectives, which all center on the girls and their families, the feedback they provide, and their needs that we are positioned to address.  

We also partner with external partners who share our values and lived experiences, and are committed to developing innovative engagements for our girls. For example, SFD partners with Equity Consulting, a consulting firm made up solely of women of color, to develop SFD curriculum. We partner with Brooke Richie-Babbage, who is a Black woman, to develop and refine our organization’s strategy. We also regularly invite women in tech and/or dance, with a focus on women of color and Black women, to speak to our girls.  

SFD staff also recognize that building meaningful relationships with community partners is critical for identifying the needs of our girls. We form deep partnerships with our school partners, which helps us successfully recruit girls (teachers spread word of our programming to their students; principals spread word of our programming to principals at other schools), track our girls’ classroom outcomes, and adjust our programming based on schools’ feedback. This allows us to consistently incorporate community voices and feedback into our programming to ensure that our students are positioned to make the most of their participation in SFD’s programs.

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?

New York City, New York, USA

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model that is rolled out in one or more communities

How many people does your solution currently serve?

STEM From Dance has served over 3,000 girls to date and about 750 girls annually through our programming. 

Why are you applying to the Challenge?

After ten years of impactful work, we are thrilled to be in a phase of rapid expansion, aiming to scale our reach and impact significantly. With our growth-based strategic plan, our goal is to invest $10M annually to reach one million women within the next decade.

In order to achieve our ambitious goals, we recognize several barriers that we believe your partnership can help us overcome. These barriers include:

  1. Securing large, sustained financial support: As we expand our programs and reach, securing substantial and sustained funding becomes crucial. Solve and Tiger Global Impact Ventures' expertise in funding and investment can greatly assist us in identifying and accessing the necessary resources to support our growth plans. Your support would enable us to secure the financial backing required to scale our operations effectively.
  2. Building national partnerships: We understand that forming strategic partnerships at the national level is essential to expanding our reach and impact. Solve and Tiger Global Impact Ventures' network of resource partners across industries and sectors can provide valuable connections and introductions. These partnerships would help us establish collaborations with schools, community organizations, and corporate sponsors, enabling us to extend our programs to a wider audience.
  3. Evolving our curriculum and training for a trainer-the-trainer model: As we aim to reach more girls and women, it becomes critical to develop a scalable trainer-the-trainer model. However, we acknowledge the need to refine our curriculum and training materials to ensure consistency, effectiveness, and adaptability. Your support in conducting a comprehensive needs assessment and providing learning and development modules would equip us with the necessary guidance and tools to evolve our curriculum successfully.
  4. Learning best practices for growth: As we embark on a rapid growth phase, it is essential for us to learn from the experiences of others. We understand that growth can present unique challenges and pitfalls. Through the support program, we hope to gain insights into what strategies and approaches have worked for similar organizations, as well as learn from their mistakes. This knowledge will enable us to make informed decisions and navigate the path to expansion effectively.
  5. Equipping the team with the skills and mindsets needed to grow: As an organization, we recognize that our team's capacity and capabilities play a crucial role in achieving our goals. We aim to equip our team members with the necessary skills, mindsets, and leadership capabilities to drive and manage growth successfully. The individual or group leadership coaching offered in the support program would provide valuable guidance and foster personal and professional development.

We believe that Solve and Tiger Global Impact Ventures have the expertise, resources, and network to help us overcome the specific barriers we face as we strive to scale our impact. We are more than eager to participate in the 6-month Support Program.

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Yamilée Toussaint

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

Yamilée Toussaint is a Black woman who has navigated the challenges of a predominantly white, male-dominated field. As one of the few women of color studying mechanical engineering at MIT, she faced doubt, the constant need to prove herself to her male classmates, and the frustration of being part of a scarce number of women in her program. After completing her degree, driven by the gender and racial inequities she witnessed in college, Yamilée joined Teach For America to teach high school algebra in Brooklyn, New York.

During her time in the classroom, Yamilée gained a profound understanding of the barriers that prevented her students from accessing numerous opportunities. She witnessed firsthand the immense talent that lay dormant due to their limited circumstances. Drawing upon her personal experiences as a woman of color, a passionate dancer, an MIT graduate, and an educator, she decided to take action. In 2012, she founded STEM From Dance with the goal of addressing the lack of confidence, preparation, and exposure to STEM careers among girls of color from low-income areas.

Since its inception, STEM From Dance has made a significant impact. Over 3,000 girls have been inspired to actively engage with STEM disciplines, breaking down the statistics that perpetuate the underrepresentation of women of color in STEM pathways. Yamilée's vision and the efforts of STEM From Dance have transformed the lives of countless young women, empowering them to dream big and pursue careers in science and engineering that were once unimaginable.

Through STEM From Dance, Yamilée has shattered barriers and created a pathway for underprivileged girls to envision themselves as scientists and engineers. Her tireless work has not only changed individual lives but also challenged the status quo and moved us closer to a future where diversity and inclusion flourish in the STEM fields.

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

STEM From Dance is truly innovative in the way it addresses the lack of diversity in STEM education and careers. What sets us apart from other organizations in the STEM diversity, education, and career ecosystems are our unique approaches and focus on serving girls of color.

Combining STEM + Dance
First and foremost, we combine STEM and Dance, integrating the two disciplines to create a powerful learning experience. Our programs go beyond traditional classroom settings by offering inspiring STEM experiences with guest speakers and field trips, all while exploring the intersection of STEM and dance through our innovative curriculum. By combining these two fields, we provide an engaging and holistic approach to STEM education that captures the imagination and creativity of our participants.

Dance!
The inclusion of dance in our programs is key to our success. Dance creates a warm, joyful atmosphere that builds sisterhood, fosters connections, lowers doubt, and makes for a STEM environment that is encouraging and inviting. Girls in our programs work together to choreograph their dances, design and build the technology in their performance, all while connecting with other girls and supportive adults who share their interests.

More Than Coding
Unlike many other STEM programs that primarily focus on coding, we offer more comprehensive and project-based experiences. We believe in putting technology directly into the hands of girls and teaching them to build what they imagine. By incorporating the performing arts into STEM education, we showcase that STEM can lead to fulfilling and rewarding careers beyond just coding. This broader approach broadens horizons and exposes girls to the multitude of possibilities within the STEM field.

A Focus on Serving Girls of Color
We understand the significant underrepresentation of girls of color in STEM studies and careers and aim to address this disparity. Our programs take into account the cultures and experiences of girls of color, ensuring that we serve their unique needs. By providing a safe and inclusive space that embraces diversity, we empower girls of color to pursue STEM with confidence and determination.

The impact of SFD extends beyond our immediate participants. By catalyzing positive change within the STEM education space, we inspire and encourage others to adopt similar innovative approaches. By highlighting the effectiveness of combining STEM and dance, we challenge traditional education models and open the door to new possibilities. Our success story can serve as a powerful catalyst for broader positive impacts, encouraging other organizations to rethink their approaches and embrace inclusivity and creativity in STEM education.

In terms of market change, STEM From Dance has the potential to reshape the landscape of STEM education. Our innovative approach attracts a wider range of participants, particularly girls who may have felt excluded or disinterested in traditional STEM programs. By incorporating dance & the performing arts, we tap into the creative potential of individuals who may have otherwise been overlooked. This expanded reach and engagement can lead to a surge in diverse talent entering the STEM field, resulting in a more inclusive and innovative workforce.

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

STEM From Dance's impact goals for the next year and the next five years are centered around creating a transformational impact on the lives of young girls and underrepresented communities through our solution. Our concise impact goals are as follows:

  1. Increase Access: Our first goal is to increase access to STEM education and dance programs for girls from underrepresented communities. We aim to expand our reach to more schools and communities, ensuring that our programs are accessible to a larger number of girls who may not have had previous exposure to STEM or dance.
    • To achieve this, we plan to collaborate with schools, community organizations, and partners to identify and reach out to underserved areas. We will actively seek funding and resources to support the expansion of our programs and provide scholarships to girls who may face financial barriers.
  2. Empowerment and Confidence-Building: Our second goal is to empower and build confidence in the girls we serve. We want them to see themselves as capable and successful in STEM fields, breaking down any preconceived notions or societal barriers that may limit their aspirations.
    • To achieve this, we will continue to provide high-quality STEM and dance instruction, incorporating hands-on learning experiences, mentorship, and leadership opportunities. We will offer workshops and events that focus on skill-building, self-expression, and fostering a supportive community, where girls can share their achievements and inspire one another.
  3. Career Pathways: Our third goal is to create clear pathways for girls to pursue careers in STEM and dance. We want to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to succeed in these fields.
    • To achieve this, we will establish partnerships with STEM and dance professionals, universities, and industry leaders to provide mentorship, internships, and career exploration opportunities. We will also offer guidance and support in navigating the college application process, accessing scholarships, and connecting with STEM and dance-related organizations.
  4. Long-Term Impact: Our fourth goal is to ensure the long-term impact of our programs. We want to see girls who have participated in STEM From Dance programs become future leaders, role models, and advocates for diversity and inclusion in STEM and dance.
    • To achieve this, we will establish an alumni network to provide ongoing support, mentorship, and networking opportunities. We will track the progress and achievements of our participants, highlighting their success stories and showcasing the impact of our programs. Additionally, we will collaborate with other organizations and policymakers to advocate for systemic changes that promote equity and inclusion in STEM and dance education.

In summary, STEM From Dance's impact goals for the next year and the next five years focus on increasing access, empowering girls, creating career pathways, and ensuring long-term impact. We plan to achieve these goals by expanding our reach, providing comprehensive support, forging strategic partnerships, and advocating for systemic change. Through these efforts, we aim to create a transformative impact in the lives of girls from underrepresented communities, inspiring them to pursue and succeed in STEM and dance fields.

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

STEM From Dance utilizes a comprehensive approach to measure progress toward our impact goals. We track various indicators to assess the effectiveness of our programs and the growth of our participants. Here are a few specific indicators we use to measure our progress:

  1. Participation Rates: We monitor the number of girls participating in our programs, both at the individual and school/community level. Increasing participation rates indicate broader access and engagement with our offerings. We track the number of girls enrolled in our classes, workshops, and events, comparing data over time to assess growth and identify areas for improvement.
  2. Engagement with SFD and STEM: We assess the level of engagement of our participants by monitoring their involvement in STEM From Dance activities beyond the classroom. This includes tracking attendance at extracurricular events, workshops, and mentorship programs. Additionally, we gather feedback from participants through surveys and focus groups to gauge their level of interest, satisfaction, and motivation to continue their engagement with STEM and dance.
  3. Sense of Belonging and Growth Mindset: We evaluate the impact of our programs on participants' sense of belonging and growth mindset. This is done through qualitative assessments, such as interviews and reflective essays, to understand the girls' perspectives on their own personal and academic growth. We aim to create an environment where girls feel included, supported, and confident in their abilities to overcome challenges and embrace learning.
  4. STEM Skillset: We assess the development of STEM skills among our participants through pre- and post-program assessments. These assessments measure participants' knowledge, understanding, and application of STEM concepts. We track improvements in critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and technical skills acquired through our programs.
  5. STEM College and Career Readiness Knowledge and Skills: We measure the impact of our programs on participants' college and career readiness in STEM. This includes tracking their knowledge of STEM-related college majors, scholarship opportunities, and the application process. We also evaluate their understanding of career pathways and their exposure to professional networks through internships, mentorship programs, and industry connections.

By regularly collecting and analyzing data related to these indicators, we can assess our progress, identify areas of success, and make data-driven improvements to our programs. These measurements enable us to continuously refine our approach, ensure accountability, and ultimately achieve our impact goals of increasing access, empowerment, and long-term success for girls in STEM and dance.

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

STEM From Dance’s theory of change is in service to help create a world where the STEM workforce is diverse, equitable, and inclusive; where women of color are creative, confident, and equipped to be its leaders and innovators.  

Activities

A pipeline of interconnected and sequential programs that engage girls at key developmental touchpoints from elementary school through college. Programs in NYC are directly managed by SFD staff, while all other programming is indirectly implemented by our partners, with SFD’s oversight. 

  • Catalyze: One-day workshops (6 hours)  and afterschool clubs (12-20 hours)

  • Immerse: Three-week Girls Rise Up cohorts (90 hours)

  • Launch: College and career support

  • Recruitment: Identifying and onboarding community-based partners

  • Community building: Hosting an online space for girls to engage prior to, during, and after program participation and community-building activities

  • Thought Leadership: Contributing to industry and sector efforts to improve diversity in STEM, including but not limited to conferences, white papers, and summits. 

Outputs

  • Number of girls served

  • Number of program slots available

  • Number of girls engaging in SFD’s online community and community events

  • Number of cities

  • Number of sites

  • Number of partnerships established

  • Number of facilitators certified

  • Number of conferences attended

  • Number of white papers published

  • Number of Summits convened

Short-term outcomes

Knowledge-Related

  • The percentage of participants that report an improvement in STEM skills

  • The percentage of participants that report an increase of knowledge of STEM opportunities

  • The percentage of participants that report an improvement in STEM college and career readiness

Behavior-Related

  • The percentage of participants that increase their engagement with SFD

  • The percentage of participants that increase their engagement with STEM (HS courses, events, competitions, scholarships)

  • The percentage of participants that increase their social capital in the STEM field

Attitude-Related

  • The percentage of participants that report an increased interest in STEM

  • The percentage of participants that report an increased sense of belonging and joy through dance.

  • The percentage of participants that report an increased sense of belonging with the SFD community

  • The percentage of participants that report an increased sense of belonging in the STEM field

  • The percentage of participants that report that they were able to develop a growth mindset related to STEM abilities that persists beyond the program. 

Indirect Delivery-Related:

  • The percentage of facilitators reporting an improved self-efficacy in leading SFD programs

  • The percentage of facilitators reporting confidence in implementing SFD curriculum as designed

Thought Leadership-Related: 

  • The percentage of community partners with an increased awareness of and respect for the SFD approach

  • The percentage of community partners with an improved senses of belonging to the SFD community.

Long-term outcomes

  • An increase in the percentage of alumni pursuing STEM-related higher education majors and pathways

  • An increase in the percentage of alumni graduating with STEM-related higher education degrees or credentials

  • An increase in the percentage of alumni pursuing STEM-related jobs

  • An increase in field awareness of the value of promoting STEM through the performing arts.

Ultimate impact

  • STEM From Dance alumni go on to become innovators and leaders in STEM fields. 

  • STEM From Dance alumni increase the representation of Black and Brown women in STEM. 

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

At STEM From Dance, our solution incorporates various technologies to empower girls in STEM and dance education. We leverage technology as a tool to enhance learning experiences and provide creative outlets for self-expression. Here are some of the core technologies that power our solution:

  1. DanceOn: Participants learn how to code in DanceOn, a programming interface co-developed with NYU researchers. DanceOn allows participants to create visually interesting and interactive graphics and animations. These animations can be used as background visuals or video effects to add visual expression to the dance performances. By integrating coding and dance, participants gain a unique perspective on combining art and technology.
  2. Circuits: Participants learn how to use a microcontroller, sensors, and LEDs to create interactive wearables for their dances. This technology enables participants to incorporate programmable lighting effects into their performances, adding an extra layer of creativity and interactivity to their choreography.
  3. Programming: Participants learn how to code in Earsketch, a programming platform specifically designed for music creation. They create and mix music that matches and enhances the theme and mood of their choreography. Earsketch allows participants to explore the intersection of coding and music, enabling them to compose unique soundtracks that align with their artistic vision.
  4. Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning: Participants learn the basics of artificial intelligence and how to teach their choreography to a computer and train it to make sounds and project animations that complement their choreography. This technology allows participants to explore the creative possibilities of AI and machine learning and integrate it into their dance performances, creating dynamic and innovative experiences.
  5. Drones: Participants learn how to code drones to move in sync with their choreography. By programming the drones, participants can incorporate aerial elements into their performances, adding a unique and captivating dimension to their dance routines.

By using these technologies, participants develop technical skills, gain exposure to cutting-edge tools, and explore the limitless possibilities of combining technology and creative expression in their performances.

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:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Audiovisual Media
  • Robotics and Drones
  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which US states does your solution currently operate?

NY, FL, SC, TX, CO, TN

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

NY, FL, SC, TX, CO, TN, NC, MD, IL, GA

Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Nonprofit

How many people work on your solution team?

12 full-time staff, 20 part-time staff, and 10 contractors.

How long have you been working on your solution?

11 years

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

Our commitment to racial and gender equity is not treated as a standalone value but is rather deeply ingrained in all aspects of our organization. To us, this means that we value people from all backgrounds and lived experiences, and we strive to cultivate a diverse community of people working together to carry out anti-racist and liberatory practices that uplift girls of color.

We have intentionally built a diverse team that reflects the backgrounds, ethnicities, lived experiences, and passions of the girls we work with. We believe in the power of representation and provide strong, professional role models who share the same neighborhoods and identities as our participants. It is important to note that our core team is entirely composed of women, with 50% of them being women of color. We have set goals for our team to become even more diverse and representative of the communities we serve, and we actively seek to recruit individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and lived experiences.

In addition to building a diverse team, we have taken concrete actions to foster a culture of inclusivity and belonging within our organization. These actions include providing ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion training for our staff members, creating safe spaces for open dialogue and reflection, and engaging in continuous learning to challenge and address biases and systemic barriers.

Furthermore, we collaborate with external partners, organizations, and schools that share our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. By fostering strategic partnerships, we amplify our collective efforts to dismantle barriers and promote equity in STEM and dance education.

We understand that diversity, equity, and inclusivity require continuous effort and active engagement. As an organization, we remain dedicated to ongoing self-reflection, growth, and improvement. We strive to create a supportive and inclusive environment where every participant feels valued, empowered, and inspired to pursue their passions and dreams.

By championing diversity, equity, and inclusivity in our leadership team, organizational goals, and day-to-day practices, we aim to create a transformative impact and contribute to a more equitable and inclusive society.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

STEM From Dance is a tax-exempt non-profit, providing STEM programming free of charge to girls of color between 8-18 years old across the United States. The value we bring to girls of color is providing a welcoming, encouraging environment and community that promotes curiosity, resilience, and interest in STEM through the integration of dance and STEM. We provide an opportunity for schools and other community-based organizations to offer a safe and inclusive space for girls of color to pursue STEM with confidence and determination with minimal resources on their part.

The service we offer is a continuum of year-round programming. 

  • Catalyze: We start an initial “spark” through our Catalyze programs, which are designed to ignite girls’ engagement with STEM and our organization, compelling them to continue their STEM development. These are shorter, less intensive opportunities, like a one day workshop and afterschool clubs. 

  • Immerse: We continue this programming with Immersive programs, which are intensive, three-week programs to deepen girls’ engagement with STEM, really empowering girls to see themselves as part of the STEM world. 

  • Launch: Lastly, we have alumni programming, which supports high school and college alumni of STEM From Dance, so we can support girls to and through college as they solidify their pathways to impactful STEM careers.

In terms of impact, SFD is at an inflection point. To offer this programming to 500 girls annually, our operating budget is $2.25 million through a mix of institutional, corporate, government, and individual support. As we aim to serve one million women annually within the next decade, we plan to achieve this growth by keeping operational costs at a minimum through a switch to a primarily train-the-trainer model. While this may change in the future, as SFD currently charges fees to our implementation partners to run our programs, we anticipate this becoming another significant revenue source as we strive to grow to a $10 million dollar per year organization. 

SFD has served 3,000 girls since our inception in 2012 and served nearly 500 girls in fiscal year 2023. Going forward, our key beneficiaries will remain our girls of color in the K-12 space, but we will also be gaining a new key stakeholder: our program implementation partners who participate in train-the-trainer initiatives. SFD will provide the curricula, STEM hardware, and training needed to offer our programs (Catalyst, Immersion, and/or Launch) through our learning management system and proprietary technological infrastructure, while our program implementation partners will provide the instructors and space to host the program. SFD will offer a mix of in-person and virtual programming modalities to ensure that our programming adapts to local needs. 

Our implementation partners are drawn to our programming due to the unique combination of limited STEM opportunities for girls and a concentration of STEM professional opportunities in the areas where they are located. They recognize that by collaborating with STEM From Dance, they can contribute to strengthening their community and their own organization while promoting diversity and equity in the STEM workforce. Our partners share a direct interest in fostering positive economic change in Black and brown communities by empowering girls and providing them with the tools to succeed in STEM fields.

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?

STEM From Dance has a comprehensive plan in place to ensure long-term financial sustainability. Our strategy includes a combination of revenue streams that will cover our expected expenses and support the growth and impact of our organization. Here is an overview of our approach:

  1. Grants and Donations: We will continue actively seeking grants and donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals who are aligned with our mission. By cultivating relationships with philanthropic partners, we aim to secure multi-year funding to support our programs and operational costs. We will focus on diversifying our donor base and establishing long-term partnerships to ensure a steady stream of financial support.
  2. Fee-for-Service Programs: We will leverage our expertise and reputation to offer fee-for-service programs and workshops to schools, community organizations, and other institutions. By providing high-quality STEM and dance instruction, tailored curriculum, and mentorship opportunities, we can generate revenue while expanding our reach to a broader audience. This revenue stream not only supports our sustainability but also allows us to serve more communities and extend our impact.
  3. Financial Reserves: We will prioritize a reserve fund, aiming to maintain a minimum of nine months of operating expenses. This financial buffer will provide stability and flexibility, enabling us to navigate unforeseen circumstances and fluctuations in funding while remaining focused on our mission and impact goals.
  4. Strong Financial Management: STEM From Dance is committed to sound financial management practices. We will implement robust financial controls, budgeting processes, and regular financial reporting to ensure transparency and accountability. In addition, we will strategically invest our savings to generate returns and enhance our long-term financial sustainability, while maintaining a prudent approach to risk management. By responsibly managing our finances, we will optimize resources and strengthen our ability to fulfill our mission and create lasting impact.

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

STEM From Dance has made significant progress in achieving financial sustainability over the years. Over the past five years, STEM From Dance has experienced rapid growth. Our budget has expanded from about $350,000 to over $2,000,000 (more than 4X growth), a testament to the increasing support and demand for our programs.

Here are more examples of our successes:

  1. Grants and Donations: We have successfully secured grants and donations from a range of esteemed organizations. Notable supporters include the Simons Foundation, providing $768,016 over five years, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, contributing $644,000 over five years, and Zoom, supporting us with $375,000 over three years. Additionally, we have received significant funding from Spark Youth, the Heckscher Foundation for Children, Pinkerton Foundation, Brooklyn Community Foundation, Mosaic Network & Fund, and the L'Oréal Fund for Women. These investments reflect the confidence and recognition of the impact and value we bring to the community.
  2. Fee-for-Service Programs: Through our fee-for-service programs, we have generated revenue of $590,144.63. These programs allow us to extend our reach, engage with a broader audience, and diversify our income streams while providing high-quality STEM and dance experiences to participants.
  3. Reserves: We have prioritized the maintenance of reserves to ensure financial stability. To date, we have maintained 6-8 months' worth of reserves, providing a buffer to navigate unexpected challenges and fluctuations in funding.
  4. Strong Financial Management: STEM From Dance is committed to robust financial management practices. We have implemented effective systems, including support from the board's finance committee, to ensure transparency, accountability, and efficient financial operations. These measures enable us to optimize resources, make informed financial decisions, and maintain a sustainable financial trajectory.

These examples demonstrate our successful progress toward achieving financial sustainability. They highlight the diverse sources of funding we have secured, the revenue generated through our programs, the prudent management of reserves, and the commitment to sound financial practices. By continuing to build on these successes, STEM From Dance is well-positioned to ensure long-term financial sustainability and expand our impact in empowering girls in STEM and dance.

Solution Team

 
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