St. Louis, MO – April 10, 2018 – As six eastern Missouri Girl Scouts from the Jennings school district prepare to attend a global, invite-only robotics championship later this month in Houston, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri is pleased to recognize Jim and Cathy Berges for their generous donation of $400,000 which will support the expansion of the organization’s robotics program. The six girls call themselves the Royal Queens and they are one of only two teams attending from eastern Missouri—they are also the only Girl Scout team going to the robotics championship.
In 2017, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri supported 55 FIRST robotic teams, more than any other youth-serving organization in the region. By 2020, the organization will double that number to 110, thanks to an investment made by the Berges’. The Council’s robotics program offers G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM across eastern Missouri hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) engagement and interaction at a young age and inspires them to become leaders in these fields. Ninety-three percent of eastern Missouri Girl Scouts report increased interest in STEM after participating in a STEM program. Last year girls earned 16,141 STEM badges.
“Having a STEM-educated workforce is key to attracting great industry to this region,” Jim and Cathy Berges said. “The technical fields tend to be dominated by males. While women represent 52-percent of college graduates, only 20-percent are in technical fields. Getting more women into technical fields is one way to close the gap. We are excited to expand STEM-related opportunities for these girls.”
The Berges family has been a strong proponent of Girl Scouting, donating more than a million dollars to Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri as individuals and through the Berges Family Foundation. In 2014, the Berges Family Foundation pledged a matching grant for the build out and ongoing support of the Berges Family Girl Scout Program Center. This 6,500 square-foot space serves as a hub for Girl Scouts with state-of-the-art equipment, demonstration kitchen, parents’ lounge, STEM lab and area for robotics competitions and simulations.
“Jim and Cathy Berges have had a profound impact on Girl Scouting and we are very grateful for their continued support and commitment to our girls,” said Bonnie Barczykowski, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri. “This gift will enable thousands of girls throughout our region to build their science and technology skills. At Girl Scouts, we encourage girls’ interest in STEM-related fields and develop unique K-12 curriculum that inspires girls to embrace scientific discovery in their lives.”
Girl Scouts Kamille Anderson, Vita Baker, Amber Smith, Ashlynn Smith, Jahnya Watkins and Zoi Fraction Williams are presenting their clean water initiative at the FIRST ® LEGO League Jr. World Festival Expo in Houston in April. The Girl Scouts, who are in kindergarten through third grade, formed their robotic team, the Royal Queens, in September 2017 with the goal of sharing their STEM-related findings on this world stage. Before the Royal Queens enter the George R. Brown Convention Center on Friday, April 20, the six girls will recite their team’s motto: We are a team. We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors. Their voices will grow louder as they repeat the words until each Girl Scout is shouting with excitement and they eventually throw their arms up in triumph. This gift made by James and Cathy Berges will make an immense difference not only in the lives of the Royal Queens, but for generations to come.