A STEM major in college and now the mother of two girls passionate about science, you could say that Sandy Marshall knows a little bit about the challenges of getting more girls and women interested in STEM careers. That’s precisely why, in 2011, she started Project Scientist, a nonprofit that educates, coaches, and advocates for girls and women with an aptitude, talent, and passion for STEM.
Seeing early success, Sandy was looking for ways in which she could catapult the nonprofit’s success and increase its impact. She was accepted into the fifth cohort of the Points of Light Civic Accelerator, or CivicX, in the fall of 2014. Through this 10-week boot camp-style program, she gained the right knowledge and skills to seek investments and scale her social innovation. Since graduating from the accelerator, she has increased the organization’s funding, grown the program from serving 95 girls to serving over 500, and is now focused on building a nationwide model to increase the number of women in STEM fields.
Sandy’s success with Project Scientist tells just a fraction of the changemaking story that is being written by the CivicX with every cohort that graduates from this Points of Light initiative. Soon after we launched, we knew we had tapped into a pool of talent with the determination to make a difference. That’s why, just two years after launching the Civic Accelerator, we made a bold and exciting bet at the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI) in the summer of 2014: to double the number of graduated civic entrepreneurs within two short years!
Two years later, and in our home city of Atlanta, we are thrilled to once again be at CGI America. With a new emerging program on the national scene, a disruptive model that abounds with diversity and a unique desire for both innovation and scale, we have great progress to share on this commitment and much more.
The headline: we are 75 percent to goal in doubling the number of civic entrepreneurs with two cohorts to go this year! The real news, below the headline, is in the impact and the alignment with CGI-America and its goals. Taking a glance at this year’s working groups for the CGI conference, CivicX has graduated social ventures that match up with all nine of this year’s working groups. A few examples:
- In “Financial Opportunity,” MoneyThink has been a national force in financial literacy for low-income communities, having trained over 10,000 high school students and engaged over 1,200 college-age volunteers.
- In “STEM Education,” Atlanta’s own STEAMTruck, a mobile innovation lab, provides STEM education by bringing innovative tools, equipment and experts directly to students, no matter where they are.
- In “Workforce Development,” CareerVillage, through an innovative technology now available to millions, empowers young people from low-income communities to attain gainful employment by closing the career, information, and advice gaps.
Speaking of innovation, in the last year, as part of the CGI commitment to leverage learnings to-date, CivicX developed a new Rapid Innovation Summit. This two-day onsite workshop provides design thinking, rapid prototyping and startup methodologies to social entrepreneurs and civic leaders. Rolled out initially in the three cities – Atlanta, New Orleans and Houston – the Summits represent a very effective way to provide entrepreneurial capacity to a broader range of nonprofit leaders in regions that lack sufficient resources for aspiring social entrepreneurs. In addition, the eighth cohort of CivicX, scheduled to take place in Detroit in the fourth quarter of 2016, will focus on Opportunity Youth – scaling innovative social ventures that reach displaced youth in order to provide educational and workforce opportunities.
On the heels of CGI America in Atlanta, we’ll turn our focus to graduating the seventh CivicX cohort this Thursday. If you are in the Washington, DC area, join us for our upcoming demo night to see first-hand how these civic entrepreneurs are leading innovations in accelerating technology adoption and financial inclusion so that everyone may succeed in our digital economy.
Thanks to a track record of real impact, CivicX has successfully attracted the attention and amazing support of key national partners, including PwC Foundation, Starbucks Foundation, Hilton Worldwide, Capital One and Vodafone, among others. As expansion continues to new regions and markets, exciting new opportunities will be created for partners to join CivicX and the effort to scale social impact through incredible civic entrepreneurs.