ForUsGirls Foundation

Aminka Belvitt, entrepreneur and president of the #ForUsGirls Foundation, works with a young woman during her visit to Toms River where she spoke about social innovation and connecting with the community to promote change. 

This year, the global kickoff for the Hour of Code took place on Monday, December 9 and on Tuesday, young women from the district's three high schools gathered together to meet with Ms. Aminka Belvitt, entrepreneur and president of the #ForUsGirls Foundation.

Ms. Belvitt adeptly guided students through the process of social innovation by using the UN Sustainable Development Goals and identifying real problems, connecting with the community, having multi-disciplinary collaboration, and taking action. Students worked in teams to brainstorm and develop a simple business plan using the Business Model Canvas aligned with innovation, entrepreneurship, and advocacy. Then, District Director of Technology Jay Attiya taught them how to develop apps for awareness using the glide app builder. No prior experience was necessary!

Mentors from across the district including Directors of Curriculum Norma DeNoia and Cara DiMeo; and educators Christine Girtaine, Jaime Tesoro and Amber Hull, spent time with teams developing concepts, asking questions, and providing support throughout the workshop.

Some of the students will extend their learning and outreach with their app by meeting with business owners and the Downtown Toms River Business Improvement District's Executive Director Nick Zorojew. Their app will collect community-based data. Another team is working on an app to inform decision making and communication through district participation in athletics, band, theatre, robotics, and more.

Amber Hull said, “I know these kids have an answer, I just believe it with all my being.”

“Empowering young women is our future," said Aminka Belvitt. "We have to help them see themselves in these spaces to understand more fully what they can accomplish.”

This event was funded by the Office of Naval Research TR:TechReady program and coordinated by Supervisor of Educational Technology Tiffany Lucey and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Marc Natanagara.

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