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Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts Supports Flying Cloud Institute
08:08AM / Tuesday, September 14, 2021
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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Flying Cloud Institute (FCI) announced funding from the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts to support its Young Women in Science program in Southern Berkshire County and Pittsfield.
For over twenty years, FCI has offered Young Women in Science (YWIS) programs free of charge to underserved female-identified youth in Berkshire County in the form of after school Girls Science Clubs, youth mentorship programs, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Summer workshops, and conferences for Women in STEM. 
"Coming out of this pandemic year, there has never been a more important time to engage our youth in empowering, hands-on investigations with authentic role models in order to build up their identities as capable, curious learners and to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders," said Executive Director Maria Rundle.
The programs focus on girls who might have an inclination for STEM but find little encouragement and little to no opportunity to interact with women STEM professionals who would serve as role models— all while facing the social stigma that girls are not good at STEM.
The societal barriers for women and girls in STEM have been persistent, especially for minority women and in the fields of engineering, mathematics, and physics. FCI's program is built on the body of knowledge derived from research, using the strategies of mentorship, hands-on engagement, and intentional identity-building practices to create a pathway for girls from grade 3 to 12 that offers continual support and opportunities for leadership. These programs are life-changing and open doors to economic independence in lucrative careers as well as building up the voices of our future female leaders.
One graduate noted that because of her participation in YWIS from a young age, she never even considered that science wasn't for her and that by the time she got to college and found she was the only woman in her engineering class, "It was too late to be afraid because I already knew I belonged there."
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