What Being a Next MAKER Means to Me
When I found out that I had been named one of the Next MAKERS, my first thought was of my mentor, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Hillary, in so many ways, defines the MAKERS woman. She has been a trailblazer at home, breaking down barriers, and a peacemaker abroad, building bridges between cultures and nations. She's a fighter and an advocate, who after decades of public service, has never lost sight of her core values.
To have my story next to hers on MAKERS.com and join the ranks of women I have so much admiration for is an incredible honor. But more than that, it's a challenge to keep taking risks, to keep fighting for what's right, and to remember that you will never fail if you never allow yourself to quit.
Being a Next MAKER is a challenge to pay it forward. When I stood up at the Gala and received the award, it was a challenge I eagerly accepted.
In that spirit, the $10,000 grant I received from Simple will go to Girls Who Code, the non-profit organization I launched last summer. Our mission is to educate, inspire and equip high school girls from underserved communities with the skills they need to be our next generation of engineers, coders and entrepreneurs.
Last summer, Girls Who Code took 20 girls from all five boroughs of New York City, and in eight weeks, taught them to build mobile apps, develop websites and pitch their products. We went on field trips to tech companies like Google and Gilt Groupe, worked with Twitter and IBM and participated in the United Nations Youth Assembly.
Every single girl in the inaugural class has used her new skills to lift up someone else. Julia went home and taught her father how to code. Now he’s on his way to getting a job as a computer programmer. Lesley went home and helped the owner of the laundromat in her building create a website. Now she’s doing the same for small businesses all over her neighborhood.
It costs $1,000 to fund a Girls Who Code club in a school. The Simple grant will enable 10 more girls to pay it forward, just as Lesley and Julia have, by founding a club to teach their peers what they learned last summer.
These girls are the next generation of Hillary Clintons and Marissa Mayers. The next generation of change agents and doers. They are the MAKERS in waiting.