In 2015, Fundo ELAS Fund, in partnership with Instituto Unibanco - the non-profit arm of a leading Brazilian bank - and Fundação Carlos Chagas, launched Elas nas Exatas, a program that aims to reduce gender inequality in science and technology education. This program supports innovative projects in public schools to foster the talents and skills of young women by giving them equal opportunity in STEM education and providing a springboard for future careers in science and technology.
The projects supported were selected through a competitive process, which began in August 2015. 173 proposals were received from all over Brazil, from women's organizations, universities, secondary school programs and parent-teacher associations. Ten projects were selected in December 2015, in consultation with experts from STEM fields. Criteria for selection included the potential for impact on girls and the school community, likelihood of promoting broader dialogue on the importance of STEM education for girls and potential for replication.
One of the projects, Circuitos Maleáveis, will organize workshops for girls on topics related to electrical engineering. Another, Mulheres na Engenharia, will lead girls through automobile production, from design to finished products, and a third, Aquaponia, will have students raise aquatic animals and grow vegetables with use of aquaponics techniques. Each project received R$30 thousand funded by Instituto Unibanco. Fundação Carlos Chagas will monitor and evaluate the projects, with the intention of building case studies out of the successful projects for future replication.
For Instituto Unibanco: Partnering with ELAS provides Instituto Unibanco with a foundation of credibility and expertise on gender inequality in education. Working with ELAS provided a way for Instituto Unibanco to learn which STEM educational opportunities would be most valuable for school-aged girls in different settings, delivering more lasting impact. The use of ELAS’ longstanding grantee application model facilitated the development and implementation of the grant application and approval process for this project.
For ELAS: The partnership with Instituto Unibanco helps ELAS fulfill its mission to empower women and girls and effect social change at the grassroots. From running robotics workshops for girls to developing a web-series on the history of black women in science, ELAS sees these programs as ones that begin by changing gender norms and promoting equity in the classroom and will continue to have far-reaching effects on society.
For both Instituto Unibanco and Fundo ELAS, partnering with Fundação Carlos Chagas - an institution has been dedicated to research in education for fifty years - to monitor and evaluate the programs, will ensure replication and long-term growth for greater impact.