Inform & Inspire™


According to recent reports released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment occupations related to STEM - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - are projected to grow to more than nine million between 2012 and 20221. The reports also indicate that the national average wage for all STEM occupations was nearly double the national average for non-STEM occupations.2

To increase the number of African-American women pursuing degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, The Black Women's Agenda, Inc. in 2014 launched "Inform & Inspire" - a series of workshops that enable middle-school girls to explore conventional and non-traditional STEM careers and meet African-American women who are working in these fields.

Over the years, the Inform & Inspire program has engaged young girls in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Little Rock, and Detroit in hands-on explorations of the threat climate change and pollution pose to pollinators, fish, wildlife and potentially humans. Workshop participants have examined climate change through the lens of weather, taking part in an interactive day of forecasting the weather, guided by Miri Marshall, a meteorologist for Baltimore's WBAL-TV11, learned about the principle of weatherization from U.S. Department of Energy officials and constructed and insulated homes using recyclable materials.

During BWA's 40th Annual Symposium Workshop & Awards Luncheon in September, students enrolled in Washington, DC chapter of Girls, Inc. participated in a lively, candid discussion with Kara McCullough, a physical scientist at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the reigning Miss USA, Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, a prominent mechanical engineer and civic leader, and Dr. Jeanita Pritchett, a research chemist and scientific advisor at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The panelists encouraged the girls to set goals, work hard to realize them and embrace their uniqueness and all of their gifts.

"Studies conducted by a number of sources report a high usage of technology among African-American girls, but it is clear that much more has to be done to get our girls to see themselves as the engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and innovators who are leading and making major contributions in these arenas," insists Catchings Hess.

Introducing the girls to the wide range of careers available in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is one facet of the Inform & Inspire program. Another key component is providing participants with inspiring role models. Students taking part in BWA's Inform & Inspire workshops have had the opportunity to meet with a number of women who are making an impact in STEM-related fields, including: the Honorable La Doris "Dot" Harris, director, Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, the U.S. Department of Energy, Dr. Mamie Parker a nationally renowned fish and wildlife biologist, NASA's Dr. Aprille Ericsson, Charisa Morris, former chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services' (USFWS) Branch of Bird Conservation Service, now chief of staff for the USFWS, and Na'Taki Osborne Jelks, a 2014 White House "Champion of Change."

"A wise woman once said that if you free a child's potential, you transform her into the world," Catchings Hess says. "We expect great things from these young ladies and are confident that they will make us proud."


National Library of Medicine

A nationwide survey polled kids ages 13-18 on their attitudes toward nature, outdoor activity, and environmental issues. More than 75 percent strongly believe issues like climate change can be solved if action is taken now. If you are interested in learning more about water pollution, climate change, air pollution and how the environment can impact health, visit the National Library of Medicine’s Environmental Health Student Portal at


Engaging Girls in STEM

An interview with Dr. Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, Vice President for Administration and Comcast about how BWA encourages young girls in STEM fields.

Engaging Girls in STEM, part 1
Engaging Girls in STEM, part 2

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Inform & Inspire™


"The Black Women's Agenda, Inc."
5335 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. Suite 440, Washington, DC 20015-2052
Office: 202.730.2637 Fax: 202.730.2638 Email:

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