Academy of Natural Sciences (Drexel University): Women In Natural Sciences (WINS)

Philadelphia, PA | 2014

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. See the organization's website for its latest information.

In 1982, the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and the School District of Philadelphia collaborated to formulate the Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) program with initial support from the Charles E. Ellis Grant and Scholarship Fund. WINS provides a safe, supportive environment for girls to explore science and their future professional and personal goals. This support system is the foundation of the program, continually developing and enhancing its three main components-positive youth development, enhanced science learning, and career and college exploration.

WINS provides young women with a uniquely nurturing environment, a community of like-minded friends, and experiences not typically found in school. Participants must be in the 9th grade, enrolled in a Philadelphia public or charter school, maintain a C or better average, and demonstrate financial need. Twenty-five young women are selected each year and participate in the program free of charge.

WINS is a two-part system. WINS I begins in the summer after 8th grade with eight weeks of environmental exploration in and outside of the city. The summer concludes with an exciting week-long trip to the Poconos where the girls have a chance to apply the knowledge and skills obtained throughout the summer. In WINS II, the program continues to focus on science, adding career and college exploration activities. Along with a variety of monthly workshops and day-long field trips, the girls visit Philadelphia-area colleges and take an extended tour of schools outside the area. Paid internships, as well as networking opportunities, are given to the girls over time to prepare them for life after high school.

Continuing and teaching the art of mentoring is something that WINS has passed on to its participants. High school juniors and seniors in WINS II activities serve as mentors to the WINS I participants. Those who graduate also return as mentors for those beginning in the WINS program-sharing stories with current students about their earlier experiences. One annual alumnae panel event entitled "Life After WINS" allows current and former students to share their experiences and tips on career choices.

More than 700 students have participated in WINS; 100 percent have graduated high school, 96 percent have gone on to college, and 60 percent have pursued careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Approximately 78 percent of the students in the program are African-American, 9 percent are Asian, 7 percent are Hispanic/Latino, 3 percent are biracial, and 3 percent are Caucasian. Students are eligible to participate for four years. The "typical" WINS student is female, African-American, and from a single parent home with annual household income below $30,000.

A recent alumna remarked "WINS allowed me to become the mature young adult that I am today. WINS has not only prepared me to further my education, but it prepared me to be ready for anything life throws at me. WINS is both educational and fundamental. I will never forget the opportunities this program has provided."

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