Inspiring a New Generation of Girls in STEM

The Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula teams up with The Tech

Guest Post by Robin Hindery Enan, JLPA•MP Project Development Committee member

When the Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula adopted its new, single-issue community focus — “Empowering girls to be STEM leaders of tomorrow” — last year, we were taking a decisive step toward redefining our approach to community activism and charting a new course for our 50-year-old organization’s future. But in immediately partnering with The Tech Museum of Innovation, we were also reaching deep into our past.

In 1978, a group of 11 JLPA•MP members led by Carol Schwartz of Menlo Park set out to create a dynamic learning center devoted to science and technology, originally inspired by Schwartz’s visit to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. The League formed a Science and Industry Museum Task Force, and from 1983 to 1986 adopted the “Technology Center of Silicon Valley” as an official community project. The hard work and research put in by dedicated Junior Leaguers helped set the stage for The Tech’s first incarnation, a prototype called “The Garage” that opened in 1990 in downtown San Jose.

Through continued financial donations, the League remained closely involved with The Tech, and several members even joined the museum staff, including Maureen Kennedy and Julie Rose.

Fast-forward to 2015, and the JLPA•MP recently announced a $100,000 grant to The Tech in celebration of our 50th anniversary. We will be collaborating with the museum in a number of ways over the next several years, including a joint effort to establish Girls Days @ The Tech, a new program aimed at engaging girls through STEM education and educating teachers to support them. Girls will participate in hands-on workshops, interact with exhibits and hear from inspiring women working in tech today.

A second project will pair League members with local middle school girls participating in the 2016 Tech Challenge, an annual team design competition that reinforces the scientific and engineering process. The JLPA•MP also will aid in establishing the Girls Days @ The Tech Committee to help provide future community and financial support for the museum.

One thing the JLPA•MP prides itself on is establishing lasting connections with our partner organizations. We don’t simply give a grant or wrap up a community project and walk away; we continue to maintain close ties to the nonprofits we’ve supported over the years, and we try to find new ways to collaborate whenever possible. Our decades-long relationship with The Tech is a perfect example of that.

The Tech’s mission and vision is a natural fit for our own new focus on getting more girls interested in STEM fields — and keeping them on that path. Together, we will work to provide the tools and encouragement young people need to tap into their natural curiosity and creativity and make the world better through innovation.

The first Girls Day @ The Tech is Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. For more information, visit:

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