Anjali Chadha, 15, of Louisville, Ky., a junior at duPont Manual High School, founded a nonprofit organization to educate and empower minority high school girls in the world of technology, and began her mission last summer by offering 10 girls a seven-week program of classroom training and real-world experience. While participating in a math/science/technology magnet program in middle school, Anjali came to realize that most non-magnet students from the school’s inner-city neighborhood, especially the girls, wanted nothing to do with math or science fields. “They were simply too fearful to even give STEM or technology fields a chance,” she said. Anjali, who was programming computers and building websites by the time she was 9 years old, worried that they were missing out on potentially exciting and rewarding educational and career opportunities.
After forming her nonprofit, called “Empowered,” Anjali applied for and received more than $30,000 in grants to develop her program. She recruited her precalculus teacher as program manager, spent many hours researching and planning a teaching curriculum, and identified a group of girls who could benefit most from the training. During Anjali’s seven-week program, the girls learned computer coding skills for designing and building websites, and heard a series of presentations from 10 successful minority women, including Kentucky’s lieutenant governor. They also worked on real technology projects for eight local businesses and the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation. Anjali has received more than 40 requests to sign up for her next program, which she is now working to expand into a year-round endeavor. And, recently, she secured an additional grant to train a new group of students over the summer.