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uCodeGirl: Inspire, Equip and Empower

uCodeGirl & The Orphaned Starfish Foundation aim to create future leaders in tech in 25 countries by equipping w/leadership & tech skills.

Photo of Betty Gronneberg
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What problem does your innovation solve?

The significant majority of women worldwide don't pursue a tech career & consequently miss out on the upward social and economic mobility associated with participating in an industry with accelerating & sustainable job growth and earning potential. Girls displaced & orphaned communities lack access to TechEd & therefore attraction decreases as they react to social pressures & gender bias—the result is a downward spiral where girls: doubt their abilities and feel alienated if they pursue tech.

Explain your innovation.

We aim to inspire, equip and empower teen girls during their critical formative years to confidently pursue technology careers. We provide unique opportunities for teen girls to build confidence in their ability to succeed in technology, develop the skill-set necessary to manifest that confidence and establish a clear technology career path to realize the benefits. We also work to connect young girls from developed nations with developing nations to work together on solving real-world problems with technology as coding is the global language of the future. Framework to deliver value Building Confidence: - STEM Mentorship programs - Leadership courses - Participating in local and global community technovation challenges Building Skillset: - Providing camps - Out of school tutoring - Real-world projects Building a Career Path: - Partnering with local and global organizations to offer advanced schooling, internships & job placement - 6th grade through high school curriculum mapping

Who benefits?

The primary beneficiaries are young girls between the ages of 12 to 18. Secondary beneficiaries are educators who will be trained with the facilitators resources and curriculum for sustainable engagement. And finally, the nations who will gain skilled workforce to fill the overall talent shortage pipeline. Smart is the new green.

How is your innovation unique?

We make technology learning fun, accessible and relevant by delivering a hands-on project-based age appropriate and experiential learning. We also look at the development of the whole child by nurturing, cultivating and igniting the creativity, curiosity and focus of the teen girls. We have the technical expertise, the knowledge of the local communities and the belief that problems and solutions are often found in the same place.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

Prototyping in Ethiopia has thought us the unpredictable nature of the availability of electricity and internet connection. We have to prepare for unplugged learning resources. Computational design thinking skills, leadership development and entrepreneurial mindset don't always need computing resources before the implementation stage. We will have to collaborate with local organizations to provide a means for power generators and a way to use projects connected to pre-paid mobile devices and 4G data plan. We are iterating the idea from our pilot. Some questions remain.

Tell us more about you.

uCodeGirl is founded by a female Sr. Software Engineer immigrant from Ethiopia who was inspired by the question, "how can I see more of me in the tech workforce?" Expertise in curriculum & experience in teaching girls to code. The Orphaned Starfish Foundation was founded in 2001 by Andrew Stein to help orphans, victims of abuse and at-risk children worldwide escape their cycles of poverty and abuse through education and job training. Diverse & vast experience working in emergency areas.

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Natural disaster
  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement
  • Extreme drought

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

Our primary implementation's setting will be 25 miles from the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

With the initial phase starting in Ethiopia, it will be expanded to the 25 countries The Orphaned Starfish Foundation operates.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

The Orphaned Starfish Foundation is dedicated to working with orphans and disadvantaged children so that they may have the vocational and life skills necessary for adulthood and thus break the cycle of poverty and abuse.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

The team of software engineers, designers, educators will be involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of the program.

Innovation Maturity

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Organization Location

United States and 24 other countries.

Website and


Join the conversation:

Photo of Carolina Mndz

This is a great idea! disadvantage kids will benefit from this project and this project can serve as a business model for other non profits with the same mission.

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