the evolution of e.s.t.e.a.m.
The E.S.T.E.A.M. Initiative evolved from Malerie earning the Girl Scout Gold Award. The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouting, equivalent to the better-known Boy Scout Eagle Scout Award.
Because it was such an important achievement, Malerie thought a lot about what her Gold Project would be. For a while, she considered doing something related to our U.S. military servicemembers, their families and veterans. Eventually, her love of music combined with how much she enjoys working with younger kids led to her final decision: “The Music Counts Initiative: Changing Lives through the Performing Arts.”
She did Music Counts for two years, using music to improve literacy and math skills for children in two Howard County Schools’ Black Student Achievement Program (BSAP) afterschool sites. Her goal was to help bring a lifelong love of music to the kids and spread awareness and advocate for music education. It was successful.
Click here for photos of Music Counts.
Outside of the classroom, Music Counts brought greater awareness to music education with Malerie's testimony before the local board of education and correspondence to local, state and national elected officials. She got several responses including those from then-Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, who co-chairs the Senate Cultural Caucus.
MUSIC COUNTS' IMPACT
In the two years Malerie did Music Counts, it also made a difference at the grassroots. A few of her kids, including some considered in-need or at-risk, now sing in school chorus, play in school band or auditioned for the Maryland Boy Choir.
The BSAP staff said that Music Counts had a positive impact on the students and asked Malerie to repeat it the following schoolyear-- for pay. She did not do so because she was preparing for college, she did volunteer for five more weeks the next year. She and the students did the Music Counts Holiday Choir.
On a personal level, the project also had a tremendous impact on her. Malerie says she grew as a mentor and role model and saw first-hand through Music Counts that, even though Howard County, Maryland is the third wealthiest county in America, there are people who struggle financially.
Aside from the positive impact on the kids and Malerie, the biggest impact of her Gold Award was that it has kept going and going....
Music Counts was supposed to end in April 2013. Instead, it continued into early 2014. In mid-January, Malerie was asked by Girl Scouts of Central Maryland (GSCM) to help its Girl Scout Urban STEM Center transition from STEM-to-STEAM (STEM+the Arts).
After helping GSCM, Malerie decided to start her own organization. She named it The E.S.T.E.A.M. Initiative. The acronym stands for “Empowerment through Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics” and its motto is "Changing Lives through the Arts & Sciences... One Kid at a Time."
Since its beginning in February 2014, Malerie has taken E.S.T.E.A.M.'s mission nationwide, forming partnerships in several places including Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC, Houston, TX, and Chicago, IL. The organization also has a team of volunteers dedicated to children and to exposing them to STEM and to the fine and performing arts.
Music Counts and E.S.T.E.A.M. have introduced Malerie to people and places she never would have known on her own! It has been an amazing experience and she looks forward to continuing to make a difference through The E.S.T.E.A.M. Initiative.