Summer 2020

Young Women's Design and Building Institute

The Young Women’s Design and Building Institute is an immersive week-long design/build experience for girls ages 13-17. The program brings together diverse cohorts of teen girls to design and build a real-world project for a local nonprofit client over the course of just five days. Previous projects have included furniture for a local women’s shelter, sandboxes and wind sculptures for local preschools, and more. As part of this program, girls will learn and hone creative and vocational STEM skills, from carpentry and welding to applied math, screen printing, and architectural drafting. This program is led by our Executive Director, Emily Pilloton, along with highly skilled female educators, builders, fabricators, and architects who provide personalized mentorship and guidance to every girl. No building experience is necessary; we welcome aspiring builder girls of all skill levels! Our work will be complemented by discussions and readings related to feminism, making, and community. This program is by application only, at no cost to participants if accepted, and limited to a cohort of 12 girls. Priority will be given to girls with limited financial resources and/or limited access to similar programming in their schools or communities.

Each day will run from 9am to 4pm and will include all materials, lunch and snacks, a T-shirt, and a few surprise giveaways. For out-of-town attendees, please note that we are unable to provide additional funding for travel or lodging.


Institute Dates (there are 2 different session options, please indicate your preference on application):

Cohort 1: June 15-19, 2020

Cohort 2: June 22-26, 2020


Activities Schedule (subject to change):

Monday: Community-building, site visit to community client, tool training and “bootcamp” building project

Tuesday: Material shopping, measuring, and cutting wood and metal

Wednesday: Assembly of projects (including carpentry and welding)

Thursday: Sand, paint, and finish community client projects

Friday: Installation of projects for community client, final reflection circle and open maker time


Application Schedule:

February 1, 2020: Applications open (apply online)

March 1, 2020: Applications DUE

March 15, 2020: Notifications of acceptances sent

April 1, 2020: Accepted participants must be confirmed and registered


Program Quick Facts:

  • When: Summer, 2 cohorts, 1 week each
  • Who: 24 girls per year, 9th-12th grade, currently 85% girls of color (over past 3 years)
  • What: 2 major community-based building projects per summer, plus 1:1 mentorship
  • How: By online application
  • How much: No cost to girls or families
  • Instructors: Emily Pilloton, Augusta Sitney, Maya Vilaplana