2021 NextGen Program Focuses on Equity & Young Women in STEM
← Blog

2021 NextGen Program Focuses on Equity & Young Women in STEM

HATCH awards $48,000 in scholarship funds to under-represented students around the United States thanks to our partners Kimberly-Clark, Steelcase, Yellowstone Club Community Foundation, Moonlight Community Foundation, the Gallatin River Task Force, and many individual contributions from the HATCH community. 

HATCH is excited to announce our 2021-22 NextGen program in conjunction with our 25th HATCH Summit happening Sept 28-Oct 2, 2021. This year’s cohort was curated around a passion for creating more equity and opportunities for minorities in STEM fields.

Addressing the problem around the lack of diverse representation in STEM fields is intrinsically complex. Students from underrepresented groups, including women and minorities, report different experiences than majority students, even in the same STEM classes. These distinctions can lead to decreased confidence and an increased sense of work overload compared with males and majority students. The issue is not ability in key STEM coursework, but one of perceived ability. Recent research recommends that STEM fields should communicate less about necessary engineering or science skills and more about the impact that students can have on the world.

In response to these challenges, HATCH is connecting under-represented youth and young women interested in the STEM fields to a global network of leaders and mentors with the goal of empowering and inspiring a new generation of female and BIPOC leaders in primarily male-dominated STEM industries. This year, HATCH will be welcoming 14 BIPOC and female students from Mississippi and Michigan as well as several students from the local Montana area.

We have teamed up with The Gallatin River Task Force to inspire stewardship of the Yellowstone and Gallatin River Watersheds. For the first time, local and national underrepresented High School students who attend the Summit will participate in the SMART Program, a nationally recognized STEM program developed by HATCHer Cary James. This forward-thinking STEM program introduces students to the issues and science around stormwater management on the Gallatin and Yellowstone Rivers. Students will work hand-in-hand with HATCH and Gallatin River Task Force mentors to create innovative solutions to this important environmental problem in their own backyards.

The program begins with a two day Yellowstone River rafting trip, where the NextGen students will collaborate with, and learn from, nationally recognized science and engineering teachers around the science of stormwater. After spending time out in the field, students will attend the 3.5 day HATCH Summit, collaborating with thought-leaders from around the globe on issues related to equity, education, and the environment. This multi-day event includes 100 curated leaders from renowned universities, technology sectors, business, the arts, media, social impact sectors and high school and college students.

These Summit experiences have been life altering according to many of the students who have attended in the past, and have been responsible for igniting many cross-generational relationships that extend beyond the annual Summit. Attending a HATCH Summit has, and will continue to provide students with access to world-class mentorships throughout their lives.

“HATCH has opened up my mind to new ideas and has inspired me to make a difference in the world.” – NextGen Student

After the Summit and throughout the coming year, students will apply the skills they learned through hands-on collection and research. High school students will work with HATCH mentors to create innovative solutions to an important environmental problem: stormwater management. Participants will periodically monitor and map water quality around their local communities, use the latest sensor technology for data collection, and learn to use computer modeling for data analysis in order to help solve local storm water issues. Data collected in Montana through this program will guide the Gallatin River Task Force’s project planning and evaluate successes and failures of their restoration efforts.

We are grateful to our generous sponsors Kimberly-Clark, Steelcase, Yellowstone Community Foundation, Moonlight Community Foundation and Gallatin River Task Force for supporting this program and, most importantly, the passions of these NextGen students.


Founded in 2004, HATCH is a non-profit global network and ecosystem of transformative experiences that consists of two annual Summits, year-round Impact Labs, and a platform that connects to accelerate solutions for positive impact. HATCH is not only a place for ideas, but actionable impact. It’s a chemistry set of diverse individuals, industries, and expertise — collaborators, who cross-pollinate to accelerate solutions for positive impact and HATCH A Better World.

What is stormwater?

Stormwater is runoff water from rain or melting snow that drains across the landscape. The water picks up pollutants as it flows off rooftops, pavement, bare soil, and lawns. It gathers in increasingly large amounts (from puddles, to ditches, to streams to lakes and rivers) until it eventually flows into the ocean. Everything that is on the ground surface, whether it be oils and greases, pet waste, metals, or fertilizers and pesticides, eventually makes its way to our waterways by way of our storm sewers/catch basins.

Why is stormwater important?

By carrying numerous kinds of pollution into our waterways, storm water itself becomes a pollutant. Even in very small amounts, many of these pollutants can cause problems. Polluted waterways cause species loss and deformity, and degradation of water quality decreases human enjoyment of waterways and ecosystem health. Polluted stormwater runoff is varied, ubiquitous, and very difficult to address its sources. Treating stormwater is both expensive financially and in terms of environmental and ecological costs.

What impact does SMART have on stormwater management?

Municipalities do not have the resources to monitor and map the flow of their stormwater with the level of detail necessary; the amount of water is too great and the sources of pollution too diverse in both area and type. The SMART program fills this need by bringing diverse students and their communities together to improve their local water bodies through data collection, innovative engineering solutions, and public outreach.