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Code Breakers & Changemakers Scholarship

3 winners, $500 each
Application Deadline
Apr 13, 2024
Winners Announced
May 13, 2024
Education Level
High School
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school senior (2023-2024 school year)
First-generation college student
Non-profit or volunteering experience
Field of Interest:
2.4 or higher
US Citizen

Do you see the world through a kaleidoscope of scientific curiosity and artistic expression? Ignite Arts and STEM sees it too. But there's problem: BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities are dramatically underrepresented in STEM fields, despite their boundless potential.

The numbers paint a stark picture: Only 8% of STEM workers in the US are Black or Hispanic, while they make up over 26% of the overall workforce (National Science Foundation, 2021).

Women hold just 28% of STEM jobs nationwide (Institute for Women's Policy Research, 2023).

First-generation college students face significant barriers to entering STEM fields, with graduation rates 20% lower than continuing-generation students (National Center for Education Statistics, 2022).

This lack of diversity stifles innovation. Studies show that diverse teams generate more creative solutions and tackle complex problems more effectively. That's where Ignite Arts and STEM steps in.

Through the Code Breakers & Changemakers Scholarship, they are not just awarding money, they are igniting a revolution. They're empowering first-generation BIPOC high school seniors with the financial and moral support they need to shatter stereotypes and rewrite their futures.

This scholarship is for you if:

  • You're a STEM enthusiast, dreaming of a career in science, technology, engineering, or math.
  • You're the first in your family to pursue higher education.
  • You're committed to using your STEM knowledge to make a positive impact on the world.

This scholarship is not just based on merit; it's based on passion, potential, and a bold vision for the future.

Tell your story, share your artistic spark, and show how you'll use your STEM education to bridge the gap and pave the way for a more inclusive, innovative tomorrow. Show how you will ignite the next generation of STEM changemakers.

To apply, tell your story. In your essay, please address all the following:

  • Fuel your fire: Share your passion for STEM. What ignites your curiosity? What challenges do you long to tackle?
  • Impact blueprint: How do you envision your STEM career impacting the world? Weave your aspirations into a tangible vision.
  • Literary landmarks: How have books you've read shaped your STEM goals? Let them guide your narrative.
  • Your deeper vision: We want to understand your **educational roadmap**. Explain in detail how this scholarship program will become the bridge connecting your ambitions to reality. How will this scholarship equip you to turn your STEM passion into reality and fuel your journey towards making a meaningful impact?


Creative spark: Got a song in your heart, a film in your mind? Showcase your passion through an original creative piece – a short film, a poem, a song – anything that speaks volumes about your STEM fire!

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published January 12, 2024
Essay Topic
  • Share your passion for STEM. What ignites your curiosity? What challenges do you long to tackle?
  • Impact blueprint: How do you envision your STEM career impacting the world? Weave your aspirations into a tangible vision.
  • Literary landmarks: How have books you've read shaped your STEM goals? Let them guide your narrative.
  • Your deeper vision: We want to understand your **educational roadmap**. Explain in detail how this scholarship program will become the bridge connecting your ambitions to reality. How will this scholarship equip you to turn your STEM passion into reality and fuel your journey towards making a meaningful impact?
0–700 words

Winning Applications

Charles Aluvale
Wheaton HighSilver Spring, MD
My passion for STEM is deeply rooted in a profound curiosity about the natural world and a fervent desire to use technology for the greater good. This drive is particularly focused on the power of electrical engineering and renewable energy technologies to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time: climate change and global energy inequality. The prospect of harnessing wind, solar, and other sustainable resources to revolutionize our energy systems ignites my imagination and fuels my ambition to contribute to a more sustainable and equitable world. Impact Blueprint I envision my career in STEM as a bridge between cutting-edge technological innovations and their practical applications in solving real-world problems. Specializing in renewable energy within the realm of electrical engineering, I aim to lead the development of systems that not only minimize environmental impact but also empower communities by providing them with reliable and clean energy sources. My goal is to innovate smart grids and IoT technologies to make energy systems more efficient and responsive, ultimately contributing to a sustainable future where technology and ecology coexist harmoniously. Literary Landmarks My journey in STEM has been profoundly influenced by pivotal literary works, such as "Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air" by David J.C. MacKay and "The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future" by Gretchen Bakke. MacKay's analytical approach to energy sustainability and Bakke's insightful exploration of the electric grid's intricacies have both deepened my understanding and sharpened my focus on the challenges and potential within energy systems. These authors have expanded my knowledge base and inspired me to approach my engineering pursuits with both innovation and a sense of responsibility. Educational Roadmap The journey towards realizing my STEM aspirations critically hinges on accessing comprehensive and advanced education in electrical engineering, with a specialization in renewable energy technologies. This is where the significance of the scholarship program becomes unmistakably clear. It serves as the crucial link connecting my ambitions to tangible outcomes, providing the financial foundation necessary to immerse myself fully in my studies and research. With the support of this scholarship, I plan to delve into research projects, internships, and collaborative initiatives that are vital for honing the practical skills and in-depth knowledge required to excel in my field. This scholarship will enable me to participate in workshops, conferences, and other professional development opportunities, keeping me abreast of the latest advancements in technology and engineering. It will also facilitate internships and project collaborations with industry leaders, offering invaluable practical experience and insights into real-world applications of theoretical principles. By removing financial barriers, the scholarship will allow me to focus my energies on mastering the complexities of my discipline, rather than being encumbered by financial concerns. Turning Passion into Reality Armed with the support of the scholarship, I will be empowered to transform my passion for STEM into concrete contributions to the field of renewable energy. The educational opportunities it affords will play a pivotal role in my development as an engineer who is not only proficient in technical skills but also deeply committed to the principles of sustainability and social responsibility. Through innovative research and persistent effort, I am determined to develop solutions that address the critical challenges facing our global energy systems today. My vision extends beyond merely advancing technological frontiers; I aim to foster a future where clean, renewable energy is accessible to all, transcending geographic and economic barriers. This scholarship is more than a means of financial support; it is the catalyst that will enable me to pursue a career in STEM with the potential to make a lasting impact on the world. In summary, my passion for STEM, guided by literary insights and driven by a desire to make a tangible difference, finds its expression in the pursuit of renewable energy technologies. The scholarship program represents a vital stepping stone in this journey, offering me the resources and support needed to turn my aspirations into reality. Through this scholarship, I will not only further my education but also contribute to creating a sustainable and equitable future, fulfilling my deepest ambitions to make a meaningful impact on the world through science and technology.
Brittany Buehl
Glen A. Wilson HighHacienda Heights, CA
When I was 14 years old, I developed an illness that I still have today. Mysterious symptoms that seemed like they came on all of a sudden ranging from fatigue to trouble breathing, none of which could be figured out professionally. Although these medical complications interfered with my everyday life, they helped to grow my interest in the medical field. Starting my early years of high school was a rough start as I began to encounter more and more medical issues; although, it helped me grow as a person. For most of my life, I was a very negative and unappreciative person, but this all changed after getting sick. In the midst of this going on, I quickly realized how short life is; therefore, I learned to appreciate every day. Honestly, this event changed me more than anything else has ever done: I became a more caring and understanding person, as well as stopping my racist beliefs in their tracks. As the years passed, this changed mindset set my future to help and protect others, projecting either policing, marines, or the healthcare field. By my sophomore year of high school, I realized how unpredictable and weak my body had become, making Policing or the Marines unrealistic; however, I quickly developed an interest in becoming a doctor. The work environment of a doctor would be more suitable for me as it’s a much safer environment as well as not being highly demanding. During my junior year of high school, worsened health set my heart on becoming a doctor to help others with similar health issues. From personal experience of having an undiagnosed chronic illness, I understand unexplained symptoms not only cause anger and complications for the individual but also for their family as well. Having to grow up in this manner caused me to have a lot of hate towards the medical system. As the years passed, the more I suffered, and the more desperate I was to figure out my illness. Every time I tried to figure out my illness, I was always hit with the same answer: “All the lab results came back normal, so you are healthy!” when I was not. As I got older, I decided I wanted to use this hate to help others in the world by becoming an exceptional doctor of pulmonology. When I was researching costs during my senior year, I was caught off guard by the cost of becoming a doctor. Even though the cost was more than what I had expected, I was not scared off; as the cost made me even more motivated to pursue medical school. I already know accomplishing my dream will be a difficult route financially, but I believe scholarships like this one would be a crucial part of accomplishing my dream: to help anyone struggling with sickness get treated quickly for a speedy recovery since everyone deserves to be healthy!
Arthur Ward
Booker T. Washington High SchoolATLANTA, GA
I've always had a love for technology, yet my exploration of this field has been somewhat limited. Despite the prevailing discussions within the greater Atlanta community about the opportunities in technology, my exposure has mainly been confined to my smartphone and school-issued laptop. However, my passion for competitive gaming introduced me to adult gamers who frequently discussed the growth and financial rewards in the technology career field, particularly for those specializing in high-demand functions. These conversations solidified my conviction in pursuing a career in this field. Fueled by newfound confidence, I sought leadership opportunities, resulting in the formation of my own esports team and my subsequent involvement with Booker T. Washington High School’s ESports team. Attending Booker T. Washington High School has instilled in me a profound appreciation for the community. During my four years at Washington, I have been able to freely and actively explore innovative pursuits, particularly in developing programs that contribute meaningfully to the youth in my community. The establishment of an Esports team under my initiative at Washington has significantly heightened my ambition to pursue a degree in computer science within the STEM domain. The enriching environment at Washington has not only deepened my sense of community but has also cultivated a passion for technological advancements. The initiation of an Esports team stands as a testament to my commitment to the realm of technology and gaming, igniting a desire to further my academic journey in computer science. After high school, I aspire to enroll as a first-generation college student in an HBCU, choosing to major in Computer Science with a minor in Real Estate at Morehouse. The unique sense of community among Morehouse men and attendees aligns with my values and reminds me deeply of my time in Washington. I believe attending Morehouse will challenge me to broaden my perspectives and step out of my comfort zone. With the goal of establishing and leading multiple businesses, I am confident that Morehouse will equip me to navigate any challenges that may arise. Following graduation, I plan to initiate my career in Cybersecurity while concurrently obtaining a real estate license. This dual focus will empower me to represent myself in property acquisitions within my home community. Recognizing the scarcity of affordable housing options for families in my neighborhood, despite increased investments by the city, fuels my commitment to ensuring that economically disadvantaged families can stay close to opportunities, affording their children the exposure I lacked. This scholarship is key to me accomplishing my aspirations. It represents more than just financial support, it also represents an investment in my personal growth and my commitment to effecting positive change. By awarding me this scholarship, you are contributing directly to the realization of a future business leader and a first-generation college graduate, who is dedicated to making a meaningful impact in their community. I see this scholarship not just as an opportunity for personal advancement but as a spark for a brighter and more inclusive future, where opportunities are available to everyone.
Jayleen Manjarrez
Bellflower High SchoolBellflower, CA
“You’ve been on that thing for hours, you’re going to hurt your eyes” my mother told me. It was another day of the week playing Minecraft and continuing building my farm for my modern mansion. Growing up, I’ve always been drawn to computers specifically and loved coding games. As a female raised in a Mexican-Salvadorean household, a job in STEM was never fully expected. It was set for me to be a housewife in a large house who cleans and cooks all day as most women in my family have. However, although these traits have made life easier, I want to make a real difference in the STEM world, specifically in technology. I dream of being a software engineer and advance technology in ways that help companies help people. I personally have never seen myself in any other field and know I am passionate enough to pursue this fully. I am passionate about STEM because of the potential it has to make a positive impact on the world. STEM allows us to create solutions to global problems, from developing new technologies to improving health care and education for ALL people. I plan to make a positive impact on the world through my STEM career by creating solutions that make a difference in people's lives or lifestyle. STEM, overall, is the reason why the world has evolved! Through the books I’ve read, I’ve learned about the importance of being able to think critically and solve problems quickly. This has shaped my goals by inspiring me to develop my skills in problem-solving and critical thinking. Additionally, I’ve learned about the importance of collaboration and working together to create something bigger than ourselves. STEM is a field that brings together a diverse range of knowledge, skills, and perspectives, and it is this combination that I believe makes it so powerful. I believe that STEM can help create a better world, as it provides solutions to a variety of global challenges. I plan to use these skills to work with other individuals and organizations to create solutions that make a real difference in the world whether it’s programming games to put a smile on children’s faces, or developing software for hospitals to those in need.
Alessandra Soriano
Chapman UniversityLong Beach, CA
STEM has the potential to make a positive impact on the world in a variety of ways, and I am particularly interested in using it to combine the arts and technology in innovative and impactful methods. One example of this is my current urban design project with my partner, which is focused on restoring the LA River. Through this project, we are using 3D modeling software to design sustainable and practical solutions that consider the historical and cultural context of the river and its surroundings. The LA River, once a vital resource for the Tongva people, has been dramatically altered by industrialization. The riverbed was concreted during the 1940s to prevent flooding during heavy rainfall, but this unintendedly destroyed the natural ecosystem and disconnected the city from the river. In recent years, there have been efforts to restore the river and bring it back to its natural state, but it's a complex and challenging task. Using 3D modeling software, I can create detailed visualizations of our design concepts and simulate different scenarios, allowing us to make informed decisions about which solutions will be most effective. This project taught me the importance of understanding a place's historical and cultural context to create sustainable and practical solutions. It reminds me that technology is not an end in itself but a tool that can be used to achieve a greater goal. In this case, the goal is to restore the river's natural ecosystem, create a more sustainable and livable city, and reconnect the community with the river. Additionally, my interest in STEM has been further shaped by the books I've read and the articles I've read about the industrialization age and new technology. I've learned that STEM is not just about solving technical problems but also about understanding broader societal issues and how they are interconnected. For example, the industrialization age brought many technological advancements, pollution, social inequality, and other harmful effects. Understanding these historical perspectives has helped me appreciate the importance of using technology responsibly and to create solutions that are not only technically sound but also socially and environmentally sustainable. In the future, I plan to continue using STEM to positively impact the world. I am particularly interested in using my 3D modeling and urban design skills to work on projects that address critical issues such as climate change, social inequality, and sustainable development. Through my studies and work, I hope to gain the knowledge necessary to make a real difference. In conclusion, I am passionate about STEM because it has the potential to make a positive impact on the world. My interest in combining the arts and technology to create innovative solutions is exemplified by my current urban design project, which aims to restore the LA River using 3D modeling software. This project taught me the importance of understanding a place's historical and cultural context to create sustainable and practical solutions. Additionally, my interest in STEM has been shaped by the books and articles I've read, which have helped me understand the relationship between STEM and various societal phenomena, such as weather, electricity, and politics. This has shaped my goals to use STEM to solve technical problems, address broader societal issues, and contribute to a more just and equitable world.
Kevin Flores
University of California-MercedSanta Clarita, CA
STEM has interested me since a young age. My father is a mechanic and seeing him work intrigued me. So, there would be days when I would go to a wrecking yard and help him out. At the wrecking yard, we would remove engines and other parts. Then we would take these parts to repair cars. My father also showed me the intricacy of building homes. He built small shed-like homes by hand. I took part in the construction and I watched a plot of land become a home. I learned quickly that a lot of work goes into building homes. Much inspiration comes from my father and this is why I want to pursue civil engineering. I am also inspired by the engineering program at my high school. I learned some valuable skills such as drafting. I also learned how to use 3D designing and printing. I plan on pursuing civil engineering to be able to create my own business. I want to create a business that involves the construction and transportation of materials. Preferably, I would like to also have heavy machinery rentals as well. I am under the impression that if I create a business then I will be able to create more jobs for people. I also plan on using some of the money I get from my business to help fund tuition for underprivileged students. At first, I was not very fond of math because I was not the best at math. It wasn't until high school that I realized that I should take math more seriously. Math started clicking with me with ease and I decided to pursue more challenging courses. I am a firm believer in the idea that knowledge is power and that the minute you stop learning you start dying. I want to obtain as much knowledge as possible for my future. This is why I plan on going to a university and gaining as much information as possible. I have not read many books on STEM subjects except on engineers. These books also inspired me on how great one person can be. That they could be able to create something bigger than themselves. I also plan on helping my family out of poverty. My family has supported me throughout my life and believes in me. I know that I have the potential to do great things and so I know that my family deserves it. They deserve a better and brighter future and I may be able to help the next generation never suffer the woes I endured.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 13, 2024. Winners will be announced on May 13, 2024.

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