Girls Garage gives young women tools they need to build, shape their future

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Berkeley-based builder and designer Emily Pilloton imagines a world where young women grow into powerful change-makers who are unafraid to speak up, stand out, and shape the world. In her quest to empower future leaders, Pilloton merged her passion for architecture with education to found Girls Garage.

Opening in 2013, Girls Garage is the first-ever design and building program dedicated to young women ages 9-18 in the United States.

"I think that there are not enough spaces where girls feel like they can be 100% themselves in all the ways they are a girl," said Pilloton.

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The safe workspace is purposeful with the meaning behind the word "girl," used as a term to encompass gender-expansive youth. All young women are welcome to take part in programs that range from weekend workshops to corporate projects.

In the garage, girls get to work on real-world building projects that incorporate carpentry, welding, architecture, and engineering. Pilloton's core mission is to expand the next generation's sense of power and agency. She hopes that with each work crafted, girls will gather the tools needed to build a strong foundation for overcoming barriers toward success.

Girls Garage offers year-round instruction with free teen programs.

"It's important for us to say you do not have to submit a scholarship application. I will not ask you for your tax returns. If you are in high school and you want to be here, you come for free. And I think that's increasingly an important part of who we are as an organization, that the space needs to be available to everyone," said Pilloton.

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In 2020, the organization received enough donations through its Fearless 100 campaign to curate and assemble 100 toolboxes, which were gifted to 100 girls in the virtual design and build programs.

"Toolboxes grew out of that discovery and wanting to make sure that girls feel equipped and inspired to keep building even when they're not here," Pilloton shared.

The key skills acquired at Girls Garage are added to the young women's metaphorical toolbox, as they embark on constructing the life of their dreams.

"Those experiences give them a certain type of armor that I hope will help them navigate any of the challenges they'll experience throughout their lives," said Pilloton.

Go here for more information about programs and workshops at Girls Garage.

To donate, visit here.

Follow Girls Garage on Instagram for the latest updates.

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