“I’m not good at math!” or “Science, isn’t really my thing.” How many of you are guilty for letting those words slip from your mouth?? Well, after being introduced to The Dennis Project,Inc. you will want eliminate those negative thoughts forever! Aunatria Tennille Davis launched and founded The Dennis Project, Inc. which is committed to increase awareness and access of minority girls underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics also known as STEM.
The Dennis Project provides enrichment programs that support inner city youth. As a result, young people are expected to make positive contributions to their community and be equipped to enter a competitive workforce.
Time to Meet The Dennis Project…
Please share how the idea of The Dennis Project was develop and the mission behind the movement?
The Dennis Project, Inc. was founded in celebration of my family, the Dennis Family located in Miami, Florida. As Miami-Dade County public school teachers, community leaders and positive role models the Dennis family women have uplifted their community by becoming a positive change and teaching others to do the same. Although faced with many adversities these phenomenal women have held true to their faith, family tradition, love of education and willingness to help others. Their roots are established in the inner city community, where they have made an incredible impact.
The Dennis Project, Inc. is an effort to continue the legacy by providing programs that enrich, engage and empower young people from inner city areas and provide the tools to become positive contributors to their community and society as a whole.
Your organization empowers young girls through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, Why was it important for you to focus on these specific subjects when it comes to young girls?
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM, fields are expected to add 2.7 million new jobs by 2018, yet women and minorities are vastly underrepresented in those fields.
- According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), women make up 46% of the total workforce but hold only 24% of jobs in technical or STEM fields.
- African-Americans and Latinos each comprise 13% of the total workforce and only 3% of the technical workforce.
- In a survey conducted by the Council of State Governments 77% of female scientist said significant numbers of women and minorities are missing from the U.S. STEM work force because “they were not identified, encouraged or nurtured to pursue STEM studies early on.”
These statistics coupled with the lack of young people who are properly exposed to STEM related studies, motivated me to get involved in the awarene
ss movement. If our children are not exposed they will be deprived of careers that will dominate America’s workforce and in some cases left behind.
The Dennis Project has delivered several STEM programs for example: In January and February, we delivered a program under Girls Represent! The workshops included 100 middle and high school low-income, minority girls to explore the field of engineering. Prior to the workshop, a survey revealed that 95% of the girls had never considered a career in engineering or any STEM related career, and under the impression these fields “were only for men”. By the end of the workshop 80% of the girls were now considering STEM fields, thinking of registering in a science class in the next school year, and no longer thought engineering and science is for men. It was AWESOME!
In addition, The Dennis Project has partnered with the Girl Scouts of America’s Get Real! Mentoring Program whose mission is to empower and enrich the lives of inner city middle school girls. The Dennis Project delivered several STEM related programs and the girls learned the chemistry behind their make-up and other every day products that girls enjoy. They also did several science experiments and learned the facts about STEM related careers and how science is in everything we do and how important, yet fun science is.
My inspiration began very young within my immediate family. Although, there were several great men represented in my family, the women were the glue that held it all together. The most influential was my grandmother Amelia Dennis. She was a mother of five who found herself a single mother early on. In order to provide a better life for her children she left the comfort of her middle class neighborhood and forced into an inner city housing project. She then empowered herself with the tools she needed to change her life first, her children, and those around her. She earned a GED, was honored as magna cum luade at St. Thomas University, obtained her Florida Teaching Certificate, and emerged from the housing projects.
She then gave back to that same community by teaching in inner city public schools for over 15 years. Her career was cut short by breast cancer in 1994, when I was 17 years old. Yet, through her life my grandmother taught me how to be a leader, a positive by example, have respect for self and then others, be honest, be loyal, love my family, and most importantly acknowledge and honor God in all I do. By the time she left us, she had already instilled in me all I needed to become a success. All I had to do is walk in the path that was laid and I every day to try to do just that!
We’re all about empowerment at C.O.R.E Mag, what does empowerment mean to you?
In my opinion empowerment is not only to possess but create the necessary tools to change one’s own life and then make an effort to provide those tools to others, so their lives can change too. A famous quote that love states: It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things. ― Leonardo da Vinci. With that said, one that is empowered, happens to things.
Working with youth both parties learn from each other, what’s one thing you have learned from working with girls?
The girls I work with teach me something new daily. It’s too often that adults feel there is nothing to learn from young people. But as I often listen to the girls’ hopes and dreams I absorb their innocence, potential, honesty, ambition, silliness and willingness to take leaps of faith in life to achieve goals. These are things we all need to be constantly reminded of.
Where do you see The Dennis Project in the next 5 years and what is your ultimate goal for your organization?
5 years from now I see The Dennis Project as a well-established organization servicing thousands of young people all over the United States. My goal is to expand our programs outside of the Tri-county areas of Miami and venture into many other states.
My ultimate goal is complicated because I don’t place limitations on myself or the organization. Yet, ultimately we would like to open a magnet school that focuses on STEM related subjects as well as a variety of programs that promote college and career readiness, leadership and wholesome values.
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