Elementary School Girls, Middle School Educators Among Utah STEM Foundation Entrepreneurial Challenge Finalists

Salt Lake CityThe Utah STEM Foundation (the STEM Action Center’s nonprofit) together with industry sponsors have announced finalists for the inaugural Entrepreneurial Challenge, this year benefitting local Girls Who Code (GWC) clubs in an effort to “hack the gender gap” in STEM industry. Utah holds the lowest percentage of women in STEM jobs, ranking last in the nation.

Offered in partnership with Carbonite, Comcast, Centeva and Recursion, the Utah STEM Foundation Entrepreneurial Challenge was launched to encourage greater female participation in STEM. The Challenge includes four award categories, and called for entries that best address contemporary societal issues (social, civic engagement, environment, etc.). Applications were open to all Girls Who Code clubs statewide.

“The Utah STEM Foundation is impressed by the caliber of entries submitted for this year’s challenge,” said Allison Spencer, Foundation director. “It is amazing to see the collaborative dynamic among students from all different backgrounds coming together to address common issues in innovative ways while also learning and practicing the fundamentals of coding.”

The four Entrepreneurial Challenge categories and respective finalists include:

  • Challenge Essay finalist – open to 3rd-5th grade clubs
    • Venus Hernandez
    • Riley Lewis
    • Vidushi Shelat
    • Alyssa Sweeney
    • Lilian Wride
  • Facilitator Award finalists – open to all clubs
    • Krishna Floisand, STEAM education specialist at The Leonardo
    • Kelli Olsen, North Star Academy Charter School teacher
    • Rebecca Rendell, Elk Meadows Elementary teacher
    • Ann Riding, North Davis Jr. High library specialist
    • Kami Taylor, Sunset Ridge Middle School teacher
  • Peer Mentor Award finalists – open to 6th-12th grade clubs
    • Cara Fuller, 9th grade, Sunset Ridge Middle School
    • Susana Shadrack, 12th grade, UT5989
    • Kaitlyn Tenney, 6th grade, Elk Meadows Elementary School
    • Kaytee Tiede, 8th grade, North Davis Jr. High School
    • Savannah Toohey, 7th grade, Scholar Academy
  • Project Challenge finalists – open to 6th-12th grade clubs
    • App for NDJ — North Davis Junior High School Club
    • Brave, Not Perfect — Juab High School Club
    • Elk Ridge Middle School’s Virtual 3D Tour — Elk Ridge Middle School Club
    • Food4Good — Park City High School Club
    • PC Hack — Park City High School Club

Awards will be accompanied by grant funds for scholarships, equipment, field trips, or the expansion of school computer science programs. Awardees will be recognized during a ceremony on April 25, 2019, at Recursion (former Dick’s Sporting Goods) at The Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City.

Additional details can be found at:

For more information about the Utah STEM Foundation Entrepreneurial Challenge, please contact:
Allison Spencer, Utah STEM Foundation Director at 801-520-5235 or aspencer@utah.govor Katherine Kireiev, STEM Action Center Communications Manager at 801-538-8747 or