YES Programs



YES Alumni Grant: Empowering Girls through STEM

Grantee Alfred in front of presentation leading a STEM discussion with participants seated around him

By Alfred Maganga (YES 2014-2015, Tanzania, placed by YFU in Ann Arbor, MI)

As a proud alumnus of the YES program, my transformative experience in the United States has fueled my commitment to contribute to my community. The cultural exchange and exposure to diverse perspectives during my time in Ann Arbor significantly shaped my worldview and inspired me to address pressing issues back home.

Recognizing the gender and rural/-urban disparities in STEM education in the Kibaha district, – and Tanzania in general, – I applied for a YES Alumni Grant to empower and encourage young girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Witnessing the limited opportunities for girls in my community, I committed myself to bridging this gap and fostering a positive impact.

Female participants sitting on a table with notebook and pens in front of them and one participant standing up speaking

The e-Binti project (“binti” in Swahili means “girl” or “daughter”) unfolded over five days, employing a variety of engaging learning tools such as hands-on experiments, problem-based learning, informative sessions on career paths and gender, and interactive games. Collaborating with the Child Inspired Foundation (CIF), a non-profit organization with the mission to empower and enhance the lives of orphans through education, social welfare, and technology, we held the project in the science laboratories of Tumbi and Bundikani Joint Secondary School.

The project educated 100 girls from low-income, rural families and indirectly impacted the 880 students that attend Tumbi and Bundikani Joint Secondary School, along with the broader Kibaha community.

Hardware and wires plugged in a laptop on the participants table with Micro controller slide on the screen

Participants gained valuable knowledge in STEM and developed a positive perception of STEM as a viable career option. Through capacity-building activities, including cognitive and leadership skill development, we witnessed tangible growth among the participants. And our project was made sustainable by the introduction of a STEM for Girls club at the school.

One participant remarked, "This project showed me that I can be anything I want, even a scientist. It's like a door opened to a world I never knew existed."

Presentation on the wall displaying a prototype design Grantee and other facilitator showing it to the participants sitting in front of them

Our project's long-term goal is to inspire lasting change in attitudes towards STEM education among young girls in the Kibaha district. By establishing the STEM for Girls club, we aim to provide ongoing support and mentorship, fostering a community that continues to empower and uplift its members.

This experience taught me the importance of community involvement and the potential for sustained impact through digital education. I am grateful for the dedicated team that worked tirelessly to make this project a reality as well as CIF’s support.

I express my heartfelt gratitude to the YES program and my placement organization Youth for Understanding for the unwavering support. Special thanks to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which provided the funding that made this project possible. I also acknowledge the enthusiastic participation of CIF, the project team and volunteers, and the broader Kibaha community.