Innovation Marathon Invites Girls to Design Real-life, Local Solutions

Fort Collins, Colorado — (Sept. 18, 2018) — This Saturday morning, nearly 100 local high school, college and professional women will be lining up for a 24-hour marathon at Colorado State University (CSU). They’ll be ready to launch the first-ever MISSion Innovation event, an all-woman innovation marathon for climate action. Participating students, working in small groups with the support of technical mentors, will create new ways to reduce greenhouse gases for the City of Fort Collins. MISSion Innovation invites young women to code, create and collaborate to help the city support its Climate Action Plan and the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

MISSion Innovation is the latest service learning program from Pretty Brainy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering girls and young women to develop skills in STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and design, and math. The climate-focused event isn’t just an academic exercise though. MISSion Innovation is designed to bring young women together to innovate new solutions for a real-world problem with a real client.

“We’re doing this to help the community pull ourselves out of a potentially dangerous situation with climate. We need diverse ways of thinking that aren’t currently being represented, and girls are naturals at engineering design thinking,” explains Heidi Olinger, Pretty Brainy founder and president. “We want to activate the minds of the next generation who will be dealing with the fallout of climate during their lifetime. Quite simply, we need girls’ expertise at the table.”

MISSion Innovation participants will be fully supported during the marathon. Graduate student and young professional women will serve as hands-on mentors throughout the weekend. Providing multi-generational, female peers and mentors is no accident. If young women see people like themselves enjoying and thriving in STEAM-related studies and careers, they are far more likely to envision a future in STEAM for themselves.

“Pretty Brainy taught me to be more comfortable and confident in myself,” asserts Maria Passantino, who participated in several Pretty Brainy programs in high school and is now studying animation at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “We spoke on panels, presented our prototypes and advertised ourselves to professionals in the field. This is an experience few people are able to bring with them into college.”

MISSion Innovation will also feature women professors and post-doctoral students from CSU holding 20-minute lightning lessons in topics ranging from the physics of climate change to stereotype threat and behavior change.

“Each lightning lesson will be a punctuation mark of enlightenment and inspiration throughout the innovation process,” enthuses Olinger, “so girls can see the creative, real-world, philanthropic and social implications of climate change.”

To register or find out more information, visit

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For More Information

Contact Heidi Olinger

About MISSion Innovation

Saturday, Sept. 22 and Sunday, Sept. 23
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

Sponsors Make It Possible

MISSion Innovation is an all-woman innovation marathon for high school and college students. The inaugural event is the newest service learning program from Pretty Brainy and is sponsored by Toolbox Creative, the City of Fort Collins, SIM-Colorado, Colorado State University Energy Institute, Colorado State University College of Natural Sciences and Women in Natural Sciences, Colorado Public Radio, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Rotary Clubs of Fort Collins, Colorado State University Office of the Vice President for Research, Colorado State University Department of Mechanical Engineering, Ed Carroll Motor Company, Effective Media, and Alpha Sigma Kappa – Women in Technical Studies.

About Pretty Brainy

Pretty Brainy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of empowering girls to gain STEAM – science, technology, engineering, art and design, and math. Our vision is to empower 2 million girls, by 2025, to develop their STEAM abilities and genius to positively impact their communities and world. We empower girls by recognizing them as the thinkers, problem-solvers, leaders, and innovators who are and will continue to make their world a better place. Pretty Brainy gives girls experiences in STEAM through which they benefit by innovating for those in the world around them. It’s service learning for the 21st century.