The Educational Innovation Abie Award in Honor of A. Richard Newton recognizes educators for developing innovative teaching practices and approaches that attract female students to computing, engineering, and math in K-12 or undergraduate education. This year’s winner is Yamilée Toussaint Beach, Founder and CEO of STEM From Dance (SFD).
Yamilée harnesses the power of dance to inspire and support young women of color from low-income backgrounds to develop the confidence, skills, and awareness necessary to obtain STEM degrees. She launched the organization in 2012, using seed funding won from Teach For America’s Social Innovation Award. Since then, SFD has partnered with over 25 schools and community centers, serving over 400 girls. Fast Company, Mic.com, Essence Magazine, Glamour Magazine, Dance Magazine, Broadway World, CCTV, and Australia National Science Week have all acknowledged Yamilée’s work and the importance of her efforts.
After studying mechanical engineering at MIT and being an avid dancer for 21 years, Yamilée switched gears to teach high school algebra in an underserved community in Brooklyn in East New York, through Teach For America. As a teacher, her eyes were opened to the multitude of opportunities her students didn’t have access to and the fact that there was an abundance of potential that might never be realized. That experience compelled her to provide students with something greater than what the school system could provide. Yamilée started STEM From Dance with the hope that a strong dance and STEM supplemental education would help to increase the number of high school girls from underrepresented groups across the nation who pursue a STEM undergraduate education.