Alberto Esparza is well known in the Chandler, Arizona community for providing decades’ worth of extracurricular activities. He started his Si Se Puede Foundation to offer free homework help, soccer and folkloric dance to underprivileged students. But more than 10 years ago, the organization started to include other activities that gave its members a competitive edge.
Si Se Puede Foundation began spreading the gospel of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), organizing robotics challenges for students through their participation in the FIRST Lego League and FIRST Robotics Competition. STEM success followed, and the organization has expanded their efforts by offering math, algebra and calculus sessions on Saturdays, plus organizing an Arizona SeaPerch underwater robotics competition.
Their high school robotics team, “The Binary Bots,” built a robot to participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and is housed at TechShop, a maker space in Chandler. In all robotics projects, the students participate in designing, constructing and testing functional robots (the younger students with Legos kits, the older students with parts machined by them).
“We want to create a pipeline of students interested in STEM that takes them from Lego robotics to SeaPerch and FRC, which will give them strong abilities and preparation to access engineering and science careers,” says Esparza.
Si Se Puede Foundation also offers the Scholars Program, which offers high school students workshops on how to prepare for college, from improving their grades to applying to schools and searching for scholarships. The foundation is currently expanding its activities to a low-income neighborhood in South Phoenix and partnering with South Mountain Community College.
“We want to instill in our students the love of education and the inspiration to serve their community,” says Esparza.