Forty-Three Youth Representing 37 States Selected by STEM Next Opportunity Fund’s Million Girls Moonshot Initiative to Join the Youth-Led Flight Crew

STEM Next Opportunity Fund’s Million Girls Moonshot announced its second cohort of its Flight Crew - a youth ambassadors program that is advancing equity for girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The expanded 2023 Flight Crew was recently announced as a STEM Next commitment to the White House National Space Council’s priority to promote career awareness of space opportunities. The Flight Crew elevates youth voices to inspire more young people to become future STEM leaders. The group will support the mission of the Million Girls Moonshot, a STEM equity initiative that collaborates with a coalition of partners to engage one million more girls in afterschool and summer STEM learning opportunities by 2025.

“After huge success with our first cohort, we know expanding the Million Girls Moonshot Flight Crew is a phenomenal way to make the biggest impact for hundreds of thousands of young people across our nation,” said Teresa Drew, deputy director of STEM Next and director of the Million Girls Moonshot. “The Flight Crew has proven to be a compelling voice that inspires other young people to pursue STEM and helps STEM leaders and policymakers understand the value of STEM outside the classroom. Youth voice matters and the Flight Crew is leading this conversation.”

The 2023 Flight Crew cohort includes 43 youth, ages 13-18, from 37 states across the nation. Having participated in stimulating, hands-on STEM experiences in afterschool and summer programs, members of the Flight Crew were selected to share their transformational testimonies to break down stereotypes and spark their peers' curiosity in STEM. These young leaders demonstrate the power of the Moonshot mission to reimagine who can build, invent and engineer by sharing their personal journeys with high-quality STEM beyond the classroom and by becoming role models who show other young women what is possible. Learn more about the 2023 Flight Crew members here.

“As national partners on the Million Girls Moonshot, Lockheed Martin is committed to preparing the next generation of diverse STEM talent and inspiring future explorers that could someday ride on the Lockheed Martin-built Orion spacecraft,” says Matthew Swibel, Vice President, Enterprise Communications and Social Impact, at Lockheed Martin. “The teens selected to serve in the Flight Crew embody the problem-solving, curiosity and leadership skills needed most in STEM careers.”

From January to August, the Flight Crew will complete leadership development and public speaking training while simultaneously acting as youth ambassadors to share the value of their experiences in afterschool STEM. Skill building will include resume and interview coaching, connections with mentors and social media training to support these young people as they develop the critical social capital necessary on their STEM journeys.

“I envision a future where Black women are equally represented in STEM fields,” said Ellyana (Elly) Thorton, high school student from Richmond, California, and member of the 2023 Flight Crew. “I believe that STEM is the future, and I am eager to have a role in its advancement. With the guidance of the Flight Crew, my goal is to be a role model for young Black girls and to expand my STEM knowledge and experience while helping others. I am looking forward to participating in this amazing opportunity.”

The Moonshot will continue to partner with the Afterschool Alliance to implement Flight Crew training. The Afterschool Alliance has been a longtime supporter of youth voices and operates a Youth Ambassador program of its own, which helps young people amplify their voices and take action on the issues that matter most to them.

“The Afterschool Alliance is thrilled to work with STEM Next and its Million Girls Moonshot initiative to strengthen youth voices and amplify the amazing things these young people have to share,” said Leah Silverberg, project manager with the Afterschool Alliance. “The Flight Crew members have so much to share with their peers and adults in creating a real path for all young people to see themselves in STEM.”

Launched in 2020, the Million Girls Moonshot builds the capacity of the afterschool and summer fields to expand the pipeline of future STEM leaders by reimagining who can engineer, who can build and who can make. To achieve the ambitious goal of reaching one million girls by 2025, the Moonshot partners with the robust 50 State Afterschool Network to empower and support afterschool and summer STEM programs in every state across the country.

About STEM Next Opportunity Fund

Created in the legacy of the Robert D. Noyce Foundation, the STEM Next Opportunity Fund (STEM Next) is dedicated to bringing high-quality STEM learning to millions of young people and closing the gender gap in STEM careers. As a national leader, strategic guide, policy advocate and investor, STEM Next is bringing about a transformative expansion of high-quality and inclusive STEM learning opportunities. By investing early in the lives of our children, we are transforming their lives and preparing them for the 21st century economy. Learn more at Connect with STEM Next on Twitter and LinkedIn. Learn more about the Million Girls Moonshot at and connect on Twitter and Instagram.

Afterschool Alliance

The Alliance works to ensure that all youth have access to affordable, quality afterschool programs by engaging public will to increase public and private investment in afterschool program initiatives at the national, state, and local levels. More information is available at