On Monday, May 6, 2019, we had the incredible honor of hosting Melinda Gates at Girls Garage! And she brought a friend… Mandy Moore!

Four of our teen girls shared their carpentry expertise and taught Melinda and Mandy how to use a chop saw, drill, and driver. Both women fearlessly jumped right in, cutting and installing 2×4 pieces for our parklet bench project. During the time Melinda spent with us, she not only rocked the power tools, but spoke with our girls about careers in STEM, how to grapple with fear (and what “fear less, build more” means to her!), and why being vulnerable is so important as a female leader. She shared her own experience studying computer science and business, and how she embraced the collaborative and creative sides of STEM. Before Melinda and Mandy left, they put up their own laser-etched tiles on our community wall, amongst the names of hundreds of other girls and supporters from our community.

You might be wondering how this moment came to pass! Last year, Girls Garage was invited to partner with Melinda’s new investment and incubation company, Pivotal Ventures. Since then, we have been working directly with her team as she furthers her commitment to increasing female representation in tech and beyond. Our founder, Emily Pilloton, also personally wrote an essay about for Melinda’s new online community, Evoke, entitled “Girls Garage: Teaching girls to fear less and build more.” So when Melinda’s new book, The Moment of Lift, was published in April, we were excited to hear that she wanted to visit Girls Garage in person before her book event in the Bay Area!

After spending such quality time in person with Melinda, some of our girls also attended her book event on Monday evening at Dominican University, where she and Mandy were in conversation about the #MomentOfLift… “When you lift up women, you lift up humanity.”

Many of our girls have read The Moment of Lift, and we are “committing to the lift” by ensuring that Girls Garage is a safe space for girls from diverse backgrounds to build the world they want to see. Melinda Gates embodies the ferocity, compassion, commitment, and “impatient optimism” that we hope to support and cultivate in our young girls and women. And we’re thrilled to say, “Melinda, you’re a fearless builder girl now!”

We are so excited to share this news with you, and we are deeply grateful for our growing Girls Garage community.


**All photos by Bryan Meltz