Women’s Impact Network 2024 Impact Grants Awarded

101 grants totaling nearly $1.8 million awarded since WIN’s inception

On March 23, alumni, students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Innovation Studio to celebrate the 2024 Women’s Impact Network Grants. The WPI Women’s Impact Network (WIN) awarded 11 Impact Grants this year, totaling over $150,000, to WPI students, faculty, staff, and alumni for initiatives aimed at advancing women in STEM.

Established in 2016, WIN is a women-led philanthropic organization committed to the continuous advancement of women in STEM across WPI's local and global community. The Impact Grant program is made possible by generous donations from alumni—many of them women—parents, friends, faculty, and staff. Since its inception, WIN has awarded more than $1.75 million to 101 grants.

“As a WIN supporter, I look forward to today’s event each year, because it’s an opportunity to see my gift in action, I always leave feeling so inspired by what our past grant recipients have achieved and what our new recipients aspire to accomplish.”

Beth Anne McGee Willett ’93, WIN co-chair. 

Grace J. Wang, PhD, who was installed as the 17th President of WPI the day before, spoke at the WIN event. In her remarks, she highlighted the stubborn challenge of attracting and retaining women in STEM. Wang spoke about the first women to enroll at WPI in 1968 and how unprepared the campus was for women students at that time. She shared the progress that has been made since WPI first opened its doors to women, and the progress still to be made.

Wang said, “How could we as a country not tap into 50 precent of our talent pool and think that’s acceptable?”

“What can we do to truly move the dial?” she said, asking the audience of supporters to help increase the pipeline of female students from across the country to WPI.

It starts in middle school, Wang said. “We must think about how to appeal to the interest, the curiosity, the academic thirst of our students.”

The 2024 grant recipients are answering that call to action.

Francesca Bernardi, assistant professor of mathematical sciences, received a third year of WIN funding to support Girls Talk Math, a free two-week mathematics and media day camp for girls and non-binary high school students in the Worcester area. The third chapter of Girls Talk Math launched at WPI in 2022 and continued in 2023. The 2024 Impact Grant will support expanding the program to 35 campers. Students work in teams, supported by WPI women student mentors, on challenging, hands-on problem sets and record podcasts about scientists from marginalized groups.

“It is only thanks to WIN that I was able to start the third chapter of Girls Talk Math at WPI in 2022,” says Bernardi. “Their continued financial commitment has allowed me to support campers and WPI student staff in new ways that I know make a difference, including free programming, meals, stipends, and transportation. None of this would be possible without WIN.”

“It has been amazing to see the girls in this club create a community of young women who love STEM,” adds Sarah Roberge ’26, who works with Girls Talk Math. “This wouldn't be possible without WIN’s funding.”

This is the fifth year the Women in STEM Pathway Initiative (WiSPI) has earned a WIN Impact Grant. WiSPI combines two STEM exploration and mentorship programs with summer program scholarships and internship opportunities into a cohesive pathway for area high school women to explore STEM, while empowering and supporting WPI graduate and undergraduate women. Each program offers mentorship, hands-on projects, career exploration, and inspiration. These initiatives foster a supportive network, uniting and uplifting women at various stages of education to empower each other in STEM.

“Since the start of these initiatives, WIN has been a dedicated and enthusiastic partner, enabling us to impact hundreds of women by offering opportunities for growth and exploration in STEM,” says Nicole Anterni, director of sponsorships and events in WPI’s Office of Pre-Collegiate Outreach Programs. “These women have formed a network and continue to empower and support each other along their journeys. We are deeply grateful to WIN for allowing us to thrive in this endeavor.”

The nine other grant recipients include initiatives focused on the social implications of emerging technologies, conference support for the National Society for Black Engineers, wraparound research and professional development support to scholars in the WPI Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, robotics kits to engage female-identifying students with STEM, creating STEM-focused K-12 learning modules, Sonia Kovalevsky Day outreach to encourage young women in mathematics, the Women in Data Science Conference at WPI, and a Womxn in STEM Book Club at WPI.

“This is our favorite event of the year - there's nothing like hearing from the grantees themselves, in their own words, the impact that these dollars have on women in STEM,” says Patti Newcomer-Small ’90, WIN co-chair. “It energizes us to continue to partner with WPI to increase the dollars that we raise, so that we can fund more grants with more dollars to have even more impact.”

To support projects like this, make a gift to WIN at