Making Strides for Girls Who STEM

As we embark on the new year, I look back on 2022 with gratitude for many moments that made me especially proud to have done this work the past 18 years. 

Before endeavoring to do even more, I’d like to take a moment to express my sincere gratitude to our Play Like a Girl community. Thank you for supporting us through such generous giving this past holiday season—and for supporting us in every way throughout 2022. The girls we serve will change the world, and you’re making that possible. 

The year started strong with our Women’s Leadership Summit, which is all about women role models. As an organization that inspires the limitless potential in girls, we chose to commemorate International Women’s Day by spotlighting some of Nashville’s most inspiring women because we know that girls can’t be what they can’t see. We can’t wait to share what we’ve got planned for 2023. 

You showed up for us again at our annual On the Green golf tournament at Brentwood Country Club last June. This annual day of team-building and doing good raised over $100,000 for our scholarship fund—allowing us to fund Nayla Maple’s four-year undergraduate education in animal science at North Carolina State A&T University. With your help, we’re building a pipeline of diverse young women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and related fields (STEM+). 

After a hugely successful nine months, it was only befitting that we end the year with a few unexpected wins including the attention we received from the NFL #MyCauseMyCleats campaign. New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones joined six fellow NFL players across the league who wore custom Play Like a Girl cleats in Week 13 games to reflect their passion off the field and to raise awareness about our life-altering mission to level the playing field for girls in sport and STEM+.  

Weeks earlier, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry also supported Play Like a Girl through his foundation, Two All, and its partnership with Bridgestone Americas. This initiative provides girls from underserved communities with increased access to STEM+ education through a $100,000 gift to support our Meet + Mentor program.

Derrick’s singular message has been that “sports matter but what really matters is leveling the playing field.” To prove it, he joined us for a day of learning with girls at our partner school, STRIVE Collegiate Academy, where they taught him all about the engineering design process. In turn, he taught the girls a little about football—while the boys cheered them on, of course. It was a great day! 

And if that wasn’t enough Titans love, I was later named a 2022 Playmaker and was presented the Women of the Titans awardan honor reserved for women who are making an impact in the Nashville community.

While I’m not one to toot my own horn, I will admit that I felt seen and appreciated for all the sacrifice and hard work over the years. It wasn’t just about 2022. This moment was about all 18 years we’ve done this work. That moment was BIG for us. BIG for me!

As we’ve done for some time now, we ended another year of programming with an Inside Look at some exciting STEM+ careers. We took the girls behind the lab doors in the School of Pharmacy at Lipscomb University. We even taught the girls and their mothers how to code a website at our annual Hour of Code event at Belmont University. (Many thanks to the faculty and students who facilitated these two inspiring education and enrichment experiences for our girls and their mothers.)

I often say that leveling the playing field is a team sport. And you’ve proven that as true. You played your role better than any of us could have imagined. Because of you, we made a real meaningful impact in the lives of girls and women again. 2023 will be no different.

We’re thrilled to have you on our team, and we know we will go even further and come even closer to a more equal playing field with you as our teammate! Thank you for an extraordinary 2022, and thank you for all that we will accomplish together in 2023. 

Yours in sport, 

Dr. Kimberly S. Clay


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