When Dominiece Gilmore looks at the world, she sees a struggling planet.
She sees species dying, pollution and global climate change. But unlike many kids her age, the 13-year-old already knows what she wants to do to help save it. Gilmore – an active member of the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) program at Girls Inc. of Metro Denver – wants to become a solar and wind power engineer.
“All of the nonrenewable energy we are using is just killing the planet,” Gilmore said. “I want to be a solar and wind engineer to fix it. I want everybody to be able to experience the beauty of Colorado and the world.”
The naturally curious teenager was thrilled when she saw a new makerspace for the first time in a previously underutilized area of the Girls Inc. Teen Space. The space was renovated and equipped with two 3-D printers, virtual reality headsets, robots, iPads, software and crafts and building supplies, thanks to a $20,000 grant from U.S. Bank.
“This means the girls can take a lot more out of Girls Inc. It will encourage more girls to be open and expressive,” said Gilmore (pictured below doing an interview with CBS Denver at a ribbon cutting for the space). “It’s exciting to be able to use 3-D printers like this. Not many girls get to create things on 3-D printers.”
U.S. Bank revitalized the Denver makerspace, as well as others at organizations in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Milwaukee, Seattle, Omaha, St. Louis, Boise and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Girls Inc. delivers on-site programs and works with schools to focus on the development of the “whole girl.” A national network of 80 Girls Inc. affiliates equips girls with the skills to navigate gender, economic and social barriers and grow up healthy, educated and independent.
The bank provided $6 million in grants this summer to nonprofits to encourage entrepreneurship and creativity for an estimated 1 million young people nationwide. The grants were part of U.S. Bank’s corporate social responsibility work focused on economic development, which comes to life through Community Possible, the company’s giving and engagement platform.
“For us, the new makerspace is really going to anchor our STEM program,” said Sonya Ulibarri, CEO and president of Girls Inc. of Metro Denver. “It will encourage our girls to dream big and gain skills they need for now and in the future. It will encourage them to take charge and have pride in their successes.”
Skylar Kelsey (pictured above on right), 11, bounced from one piece of technology to another at the recent unveiling of the makerspace. She was especially drawn to the obstacle course for the new Spheros – app-enabled robotic balls that you steer with iPads.
“I like technology. I love art and activities,” said an excited Kelsey. “Before, you could barely find a blank piece of paper to draw on. I can’t wait to use the 3-D printers. I am going to make a wolf. And a dragon.”
Story by Heather Draper of U.S. Bank. Photos by Draper and professional photographer Frank Morales.