Supporting Incredible Steminists Doing Incredible Things — Alpha’s Way of Giving Back

Karina Popovich
6 min readMar 28, 2020


“Founding Females” is Alpha’s way of walking the talk. We are dedicated to fighting for diversity in the technology and engineering space by inspiring others. From 3D-printed hoodies that add a third dimension to your wardrobe *pun intended* to an initiative that gives back to empowering female-founded STEM organizations, we want to lead the way for a creative and impact oriented movement for the STEM community. Meet Alpha!

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Meet Our Badass Founders and their Organizations :

  • Caeley Looney was born to two engineers (shout out to her mom who was a naval engineer and paved the way for women of her time) and has been a Steminist her whole life. She is an Aerospace Engineer by practice and continues engineering while building out Reinvented Magazine. Caeley and her incredible team are reinventing the general perception of women in STEM fields while inspiring interest in STEM for young women nationwide through magazines among a number of initiatives.
  • Melanie and Molly saw their friends who were once passionate about tech and business drop these interests in middle-school when there were no other girls in their classes. Knowing that the majority of girls lose interest in STEM in middle school, Melanie and Molly started Girl Tech Boss to empower middle school through high school aged girls to pursue entrepreneurship in the STEM field by providing them with resources and support from the existing community.
  • Shivali Gulati is a tech star who is constantly contributing to the STEM community by organizing hackathons, developing curriculums, and sharing her story. She is excited to provide her knowledge of computer science to the next generation of females with Girl Genius, an online magazine created by aspiring girls in STEAM which provides a platform for girls to learn about accomplished women in STEAM, showcase their projects, as well as connect with girls nationwide.

For this program, Alpha has partnered with these three accomplished female leaders and their organizations, and this is how we are supporting them:

  • 20% from every Alpha purchase is donated to Founding Females
  • STEMinist and Minmalist shirts donated to supplement each of our organizations’ initiatives
  • Creating an apparel collection for each organization as a means of fundraising
  • Assistance with organizing events
  • Ongoing support, advice, and love ❤

Stay tuned for all of the exciting projects we have coming up! Get all of the latest updates by following us on instagram @wear.alpha

Here is why I wanted to create this program:

When I first tried to make a difference, I was a sophomore in high school and 16 at the time. I started a club at my high school called Connect with Tech Companies (CWTC) which brought together students experiencing racial, gender, or sexual orientation challenges in their pursuit of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education and created a supportive community. I thought that this mission would relate to many companies and groups that I would be appealing to for funding and opportunities. After a few months of cold-emailing and reaching out to my contacts, I didn’t get anywhere because companies were not interested in funding an organization that was not an official legal entity let alone an organization that is not a 501c-3 tax exempt non-profit. Many companies prefer to donate to organizations or non-profits with 501c-3 status because their donation makes them exempt from paying a certain portion of their taxes. They are effectively killing two birds with one stone, putting on a good face while saving money.

Fast forward to this past summer, CWTC transformed into Connect with Tech and had a new mission: to build and send computers to schools in underdeveloped countries for Computer Science education. I was re-energized, and ready to take CWT to the next level by becoming a non-profit 501c-3. Being in the state of New York, this process is much more complicated than in other states, which is why lawyers are recommended and, in some cases, necessary. To be safe, I went ahead and found a lawyer with the most reasonable pricing. We started the process and as expected (but not to me at the time), we went over my intended budget, but I continued the process. Hopeful that it would all be worth it, I started reaching out to my connections at a variety of companies to let them know that we are on the verge of completion and are looking for donations. After 10–15 calls, I got the same response, “our donations are more for established organizations with a track-record, but when your organization does more work reach back out to us”. What a catch 22!

I was disappointed like never before. I felt betrayed by myself for being so naïve and unknowledgeable, and by these companies for not lending a helping hand when it seemed like I never asked for much in the first place. Aside from monetary support, I craved real approval, I didn’t want to hear an empty support like “keep up your amazing work”, I wanted someone to support me in the way that I needed, through donations or advice or anything else that could help my organization. Along with the lack of support I felt, I couldn’t support my cause and members in the way that I felt morally obligated to.

All in all, I must concede, I assumed that successful corporate companies donate to everyone with ease, I placed too much hope on them, and didn’t try harder to find alternative sources of funding (although I diligently searched for grants and put significant effort into setting up a GoFundMe).

Throughout all three years, I heard 100 “No’s” for every “Yes” and the lack of affirmation filled me with constant doubt about my organization, it’s value, and myself. Facing these challenges taught me to be resilient and persistent while finding value in my skills and learning rather than the approval of others.

I don’t want other grass roots STEM organizations, started by dedicated women, to face the the legal and support barriers that I faced. I don’t want other young women to be deterred from starting an organization and making a difference. And I don’t want the shining light of these young women and change-makers in the making to be dimmed by the system. This is precisely why the organizations in the “Founding Females” program come from all legal statuses and are run by inspirational women of all age groups. Alpha doesn’t benefit from tax-exemption and doesn’t place any value on it because our priority is encouraging the founders and giving them the resources they need to magnify their impact.

What’s more, small grass-roots organizations achieve an astounding impact in their small communities because the women leading them have touching stories and experiences that led them to invest their own money and energy into making a difference for future generations of women. Their passion for their work is unmatched which is why I admire the female change-makers, Caeley, Molly, Melanie, and Shivali, that “Founding Females” supports because they are the underdogs who are silently paving the way for diversity in STEM. Supporting them is an integral part of Alpha, and my personal mission.

Take a look at their combined impact!

My biggest hope is that more young woman are encouraged to pursue their biggest dreams and make a difference, while businesses begin more giving back initiatives that support change-making individuals in the way they need to be supported.



Karina Popovich

Founder of Wear Alpha ⚡Leading a creative and social-impact driven movement to bring the inspirational powers of STEM to everyone