For 35 years, the Academy’s Women In Natural Sciences (WINS) program has been helping young women from Philadelphia public and charter high schools graduate and strive for careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In addition to hands-on science workshops, career and college exploration and positive youth development, WINS provides young women with the information, encouragement and confidence they need to shape their futures. The program’s mentoring and support has resulted in 100 percent of WINS students graduating high school and over 97 percent attending college.
The Academy is excited to announce that on Tuesday, WINS was named a winner in the “Organizational” category of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. These awards recognize “outstanding efforts of mentors in encouraging the next generation of innovators and developing a science and engineering workforce that reflects the diverse talent of America.” It is given out by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), with the National Science Foundation (NSF). Through the award, WINS will receive $10,000 to support the program, which is free to all participants and operates primarily on grant support and contributions by Academy supporters.
In many ways, admission to the WINS program guarantees a lifetime of mentorship. Almost immediately upon entering the program, the students begin to bond with peers who support each other through life’s ups and downs. They frequently receive guidance from empathetic staff and are automatically connected to a network of experienced alumnae.
It’s in this uniquely nurturing environment that young women find a community of like-minded friends and experiences not typically found in school. Those opportunities include, for the WINS I freshmen cohort, weekly classes at the Academy and a field trip one Saturday a month. For WINS II participants, who have completed the WINS I program and continued on through sophomore, junior or senior year of high school, this also means opportunities to obtain internships, attend and present at conferences and join the group’s annual college visits.
For Lynn Larabi, a sophomore at Central High School in the WINS II program, WINS helped her discover that, though she’s undecided in her future career path, she wants to fight for environmental equality and help people better their communities. She also enjoys how her WINS interactive learning experiences have given her the opportunity to apply what she learns in the classroom to the outside world.
“Seeing a program that advocates for women to go into these male-dominated STEM fields was a big opportunity,” Larabi said. “As a first-generation [future college] student as well, I’m seeing a program that introduces me to all of these opportunities and [am] surrounded with people who love the same things that I do. It’s very encouraging.”
As our world changes, our staff continue to expand our offerings to make the program relevant for future science leaders—even beyond Philadelphia.
“Our plan is to not only expand this project to other in- and out-of-school settings nationwide, but also diversifying the content and discipline reach of the WINS program,” says Jacquie Genovesi, PhD, vice president of Education and an assistant clinical professor in Drexel’s School of Education. “We believe that if you give young women the confidence and skills to be successful, success can be attained in any STEM field, even those where women, especially women of color, are most under-represented.”
The Academy is thrilled to congratulate our WINS program on this prestigious award.