Girls Build is a non-profit organization based in Portland, Oregon that hosts trades-based summer camps for young girls throughout the Pacific Northwest. The camps are led by women instructors in various trade industries – electrical, carpentry, plumbing, mechanics, solar installation, and more. The camps equip girls ages 8-15 years old with tool belts, hard hats, safety goggles, and power tools to inspire curiosity and learn the skills to build different things. The summer camps give these girls a chance to hammer, solder, drill, use blacksmith forges, install solar and be independent problem solvers. Our sister association, OSSIA, organizes the solar workshops for Girls Build, developing curriculum, purchasing materials and managing volunteers.
WASEIA member businesses have sent employees to volunteer in years’ past, notably Greentech Renewables employees have been involved with Girls Build every year (even traveling to Portland from Seattle and Bellingham) and have donated their time, labor, solar supplies, and funds to this important cause. WASEIA’s President, Kaitlin Borstelmann, has volunteered every year since the camps started and facilitated the beginning of the solar workshops as a part of the organization, powerPNW, with support and input from a number of amazing women in the local solar industry. When OSSEIA took over all powerPNW programming a few years’ back, they worked creatively around COVID restrictions to launch solar curriculum for the campers that involves individual take-home projects.
These camps create a space for kids to gain confidence in their ability to build and create impressive, functional projects, to communicate effectively in a group, and to have fun while producing great work. I wish I had access to these camps when I was a kid and i am grateful to be part of it! – Kaitlin Borstlemann, WASEIA, BoD President
This initiative provides meaningful impact on young girls’ lives. By donating and teaching at the summer camps, they are helping foster a generation of empowered young women and non-binary youth, who are confident in their abilities to build, create, and lead. Through hands-on experiences, the campers gain practical skills, develop problem-solving abilities, and ignite their passion for construction and design. This initiative not only equips them for potential careers in related fields but also cultivates invaluable life skills that can be applied across various domains. By providing them with the necessary resources and mentorship, we can empower girls to break barriers, pursue their passions, and contribute to traditionally male-dominated industries.We look forward to seeing great things from Girls Build for years to come!