Girlstart adds Tom Green to roster

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An Austin-based nonprofit focused on engaging girls in the STEM fields—or science, technology, education and math—is bringing an additional after-school program to Hays CISD.

Girlstart, an after-school program, occurs weekly at five elementary schools in HCISD and continues throughout the school year. A sixth campus, Tom Green Elementary School, has welcomed the program this fall.

Tamara Hudgins, executive director of Girlstart, said girls in grades 4 and 5 can take part in the program’s inquiry-based, hands-on activities.

“This is about exploring and learning by doing,” Hudgins said. “It’s trial and error and learning new things and picking yourself up when an activity doesn’t work the first time.”

Fuentes, Pfluger, Hemphill, Tobias and Negley elementary schools also have the after-school program. Hudgins said Girlstart after-school sessions are available in about 45 other districts in the Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Bryan-College Station areas as well as in the Rio Grande Valley.

She said Girlstart is the “most robust and longest-running” STEM program for girls in the nation.

Now the organization is turning its focus to the communities surrounding Austin, Hudgins said.

“We are really focused on making sure people know that, yes, we care about Austin, and, yes, we serve Austin schools,” she said. “We also care about those in the periphery because those in the periphery really get lost.”

Four years ago the nonprofit expanded to Hays CISD. The district has 120 girls in Girlstart’s after-school program, and about 80 girls participated in the organization’s summer camps at Hays CISD.

Girlstart has a waitlist of 66 districts in Texas, Hudgins said. San Marcos CISD is not among the districts it services.

Hudgins said about half of all bachelor’s degrees are earned by women, yet they represent only 24 percent of the STEM workforce. She said there is a need for a diversity of voices in these fields that women can provide.

Learn more about Girlstart at


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