By Derricka Pierson, Education Voices student, Urban Peace Movement

Roughly 100 girls in Oakland are creating solar panel-powered technology this summer.

Through Girls Inc., girl teams are making solar wrist USB chargers, cell chargers, backpack chargers and purse chargers that will charge nearly any technology tool.

To create their visions, participants meet on weekdays from Monday to Thursday on the Girls Inc. campus at Concordia Park. They attend workshops, field trips, and activities throughout the month.

Girls Inc. participants begin their program, Eureka!, in the 7th grade.  They finish when they’re in their senior year of high school.

“It is important for girls to innovate, because girls are users,” said Danielle Stanton, the Girls Inc. Rookies Coordinator.

“When we put ourselves into the shoes of designers, engineers and overall innovators, we incorporate our own perspective, which is important considering women have more purchasing power nationwide. We are able to make products that will benefit a large majority of the population,” she said.

“Girls should be able to lead,” said Ilsi Veloz, a former Girls Inc. participant who now attends Oakland Unity High School

According to Vanessa Ortega, a former Girls Inc. participant who is now also an Oakland Unity High School student, “It’s important for girls to be in Girls Inc. because it gives us the power to positively change whatever we want to change, as long as it’s for a good cause and will positively affect our community.”

This year’s graduates will receive certificates and stipends at a ceremony on the Holy Names Campus in July. There, they will chant the Girls Inc. motto: “Strong, smart and bold.”

Full Disclosure: As a current Girls Inc., participant, I am now working with Julisa Rivera to create a portable USB charger.


This story and the entire Education Voices series were made possible through the support of The California Endowment. Our student reporters for this series are participants in programs at Urban Peace Movement. Our lead trainer in the Education Voices project is Irene Florez of Oakland Local staff and our staff reporters are Barbara Grady and Jon Leckie. Many thanks to the Endowment and UPM for the support of this program, and to our wonderful coaches, trainers and student reporters.

Follow the entire series here:

See our earlier California Endowment supported reporting package at