BioGals works to offer young women a chance to partake in different sustainability-related projects and opportunities and a partnership with Venture Devils allows them reach a greater audience.
Venture Devils assigns a specific mentor to each startup organization to provide a one-on-one interaction that offers guidance. Tiffany Timmons, the mentor for BioGals, said that the program “gives them the ability to shortcut learning when it comes to business,” so that they are able to progress strategically while still focusing on their original goals.
Shannon Roberson, the director of outreach for BioGals believes that the organization can be a bridge for women of color, allowing them to form connections while providing opportunities to grow, learn and prosper in the sustainability and STEM field.
“A lot of the time when you think of sustainability, women of color, black women are just not what you think about," Roberson said. "So giving a face to sustainability can really help bring it to communities who are open and willing but aren’t necessarily exposed to it."
The idea for BioGals formed in the summer of 2017, when seven women of color, including ASU sustainable engineering student and vice president of BioGals, Evvan Morton, traveled to Belize and visited the Sittee River Village community in Stann Creek.
The group of women worked with people in the village and performed a waste audit, along with other surveys in order to better understand the waste management needs of the village.
Results showed that the village struggled with proper waste management tactics and had excess trash that they were burning. The consistent burning of trash and other toxic materials is a harmful practice that can negatively impact air quality and other aspects of the environment.
“The country has a lot of waste in general and they don’t have sustainable management practices,” Morton said.
After having a greater understanding of the issues in the Sittee River Village, the group of women worked with the community to find a sustainable solution.
The women constructed a system that enabled anaerobic digestion, a process that breaks down food waste and yields biogas which can be used for cooking fuel. In addition, the process creates other solid material that can be utilized as fertilizer to help the village with its agricultural needs.
“When we started to build the digester we started to get a lot of comments from people that they were really surprised to see women doing this and especially women of color,” Morton said.
After getting this feedback and spending time in Belize, the group of women felt inspired to create the BioGals organization so they could continue to make similar impacts in other communities.
Now, the women in BioGals are working to expand the organization and grow it into a more established community that can unite and inspire women of color in STEM.
The organization is currently conducting sustainability-related research in order to continue expanding their reach in the future.
Morton said the partnership with Venture Devils allows BioGals to obtain further funding, mentorship, and overall support.
The next step for BioGals is to target younger women of color in order to get them interested in STEM earlier.
"We're trying to start with more mentoring programs in the future and continue working in Belize and, in the future, other countries as well," Morton said.