Latinitas, Austin’s only bilingual STEM education nonprofit for nearly 20 years, gathered girls and teens of color for their first national Latinitas Startup Chica Conference. They joined other 9-18-year-old girls and teens from 15 states.
Latinitas empowers all girls to innovate using media and technology. As Latinitas Deputy Executive Director Sylvia Butanda explains, Startup Chica is especially important to the experiences of girls of color as “COVID-19 has shed light on economic, health and technology disparities in Austin and across the nation. … For seven years, girls and teens from Austin at Startup Chica have used the challenges around them to create and innovate. Now we open that nationwide.” This year, girls virtually came from all over to join mixed teams.
With the help of coaches, the young entrepreneurs learned how to start a business from concept to pitch while also receiving lessons in effective brainstorming, marketing strategies, budgeting and presentation. Teams not only had to start a business, but one that addressed a problem from the list of the United Nation’s Sustainable Goals including gender equity, clean water and climate change. First prize went to two teams: Fair Foods, who focused on re-purposing restaurant food for the hungry, and Food for Friends, the minds behind an app for homeless people to get a free meal.