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A nonprofit and a bank are helping girls take over the tech world
Courtesy of Capital One
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Capital One

Eighth grader Ailyn Moreno wants to save the planet, but she wasn't sure how she'd go about it until recently.

As a student at the Dallas Environmental Academy in Texas, Moreno knew she was interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), specifically science and engineering, but there are so many career choices that exist within these broad categories. She knew she wanted to hone in on her passion, but wasn't exactly sure how to apply her academic learning to the real world.

Then one of her teachers told her about Girls Inc., a nonprofit that empowers girls ages six to 18 to value themselves, take risks, and discover and develop their inherent strengths. Through long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment, and research-based programming, girls become equipped to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers, and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

Moreno was connected to the Eureka! STEM program at Girls Inc. of Dallas, which offers an intensive, five-year program to build a girls' confidence and skills through hands-on opportunities in STEM. She thought it "would open so many doors," so she decided to join.


From the moment she began the summer program, Moreno felt like she was seeing how careers in STEM, like doctors and software engineers, function in the real world. This helped her get a better sense of what areas she might want to pursue down the road.

During the first week, they focused on nursing and occupational therapy. "At every point of the day, we were always doing something fun and interesting," says Moreno. "We practiced giving shots to a football, pretending it was a real human being."

The Eureka! STEM program also gave Moreno the opportunity to participate in Capital One Coders. Through this program, volunteers work one-on-one with the girls, helping them explore coding and computer design technology, and build their own apps. The girls receive hands-on experience with app-building tools using algorithms and get the opportunity to ask the Capital One mentors questions about future career plans. "The mentors were really nice," says Moreno. "They guided us through the whole process of programming and controlling the apps [we made]."

Courtesy of Capital One

Capital One Coders is part of Capital One's Future Edge initiative, which helps more Americans acquire the skills and resources they need to succeed in a technologically-driven economy.

Dallas isn't the only place where Capital One offers a Mentor Day like this with Girls Inc. Capital One Café locations in San Francisco have worked with Girls Inc. on the island of Alameda in the San Francisco Bay area since 2018. After two successful financial literacy workshops with the girls, they decided to bring professionals from STEM-related fields within Capital One to a Mentor Day.

Denise Evans, a Capital One Café Ambassador in San Francisco who helps oversee the partnership with Girls Inc., says she loves helping people gain the tools they need to be successful. Expanding Capital One's reach into a mentorship program was a huge step in that direction.

"I'm always trying to find ways to empower young girls," says Evans. "I feel like [they're] our future."

The idea was to inspire these girls to look outside the box for career possibilities. For example, Evans says many of them didn't realize science and engineering careers existed at Capital One. Others, like Moreno, knew they liked STEM, but had no idea how that interest could turn into a career or what fields were available to them.

Throughout the partnership program with Girls Inc., Evans also noticed how important it was for the girls to have women mentors who have been professionally successful. "To see another female in that role helps them see that there are possibilities that they can achieve, too," she says.

"If we do get more women in STEM, that means [more] equality gender-wise, so that women are offered the same opportunities that men have," says Moreno.

At the end of the partnership program, there's a showcase day where students speak about their experiences, share their projects and apps they made with their families and friends, and even compete for awards. After the festivities, each girl receives a certificate for all they've accomplished.

But Evans says they leave with much more than that. She feels many walk away with a sense of, "Oh I can do this!" meaning they can achieve whatever career dreams they may have. It's why she's pushing for the Capital One Coders program to work with more nonprofits, offer job shadowing experiences for young people, and ultimately open more doors that might've been previously closed to them.

"If you have those doors and the doors are open, then that's going to lead them in the right direction," says Evans.

The program certainly did just that for Moreno, who now has clarity of what she wants to be when she grows up. "I want to become an environmental engineer and help find more ways to save our planet," she says.

To learn more about Capital One's community efforts, go to www.capitalone.com/about.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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