Going where no (wo)man has gone before: Frito-Lay blasts off partnership with STEM Next’s Million Girls Moonshot

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Frito-Lay's Back-to-School Blast Off 2022 programme shows the sky's the limit for girls. Pic: Frito-Lay
Frito-Lay's Back-to-School Blast Off 2022 programme shows the sky's the limit for girls. Pic: Frito-Lay

Related tags Frito-lay north america STEM Million Girls Moonshot women empowerment

Frito-Lay has teamed up with Sonequa Martin-Green – the first Black female captain in Star Trek’s history – to kick of the return of the Back-to-School Blast Off programme, which includes a partnership with STEM Next’s Million Girls Moonshot (MGM).

The initiative includes a $100k donation from Frito-Lay Variety Packs to further Million Girls Moonshot​'s ​mission to inspire and prepare the next generation of innovators by engaging one million more girls by 2025 in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning opportunities through afterschool and summer programmes.

The funds will also be used to send MGM’s first Flight Crew​ to Space Camp.

This year, MGM is inaugurating a Flight Crew of 16 remarkable young leaders from across the country, who have demonstrated ability to break down stereotypes in their communities and spark their peers’ curiosity in STEM.

This talented cadre has been tasked to amplify voices of the youth in the national conversation around STEM equity and build a future where every young girl can imagine themselves as a future engineer, builder or inventor.

Like MacKenzie G, a ninth grader from Maryland, who believes that ten years of Girl Scouts and five years of 4-H led to her love of engineering. Or Helena, an 11th​ grade from Illinois, who recently pitched an afterschool mental health programme that included a bio-mural made out of moss. Or Nikhita, a 10th​ grader from Washington, who aspires to be an astrophysicist.

Anything is possible

SMG Headshot as of 9.2.20
Sonequa Martin-Green

As with any mission, a leader is needed to inspire and encourage – and that is the role of Sonequa Martin-Green, who is boldly taking Star Trek where no (wo)man has gone before as the first black female first officer of a starship.

In a 2017 interview with Independent, Martin-Green said, “I think it sends a message to any minority group that’s been disenfranchised. We all benefit when we can see a picture of ourselves in a position of leadership and I think that goes not just for women and people in minority groups – but for everyone to see that this is possible. I think that it will help people see the beauty of women in power and also the beauty of minorities in power, and to incite change.”

Martin-Green will be featured on specially marked Frito-Lay Variety Packs on store shelves across the US for a limited time. She also helped the brand surprise the MGM girls with the news about Space Camp, and special ceremonial stars Frito-Lay named in each girl’s honour to recognise their dedication to STEM.

STEM stars

Families can get in on the fun by visiting a dedicated BlastOff for STEM site​ to explore activities created by NASA scientists that can be done with everyday household items, such as Create Big Bang Slime, Design a Heat Shield and Start a Moon Journal, among others.

Consumers are then invited to share a pic of their family’s Back-to-School Blastoff Activity on Instagram or Twitter – with the hashtag #SpaceForHer and #Entry – to be entered for a chance to have a ceremonial star named after a girl they know who is passionate about STEM.

For every entry received, Frito-Lay will make an additional $20 donation to MGM (up to $50,000).

To honour the accomplishments of young women in STEM and celebrate each star named, the snack brand has launched an interactive map with a constellation of the ceremonial stars. The map will continue to grow and serve as a place where girls can see their galaxy-sized dreams come to life, no telescope necessary.

History of the Back-to-School programme

Created in 2021, the Back-to-School Blast Off programme kicked off with a $150k investment from Frito-Lay Variety Packs to create the Space for Her Scholarship Fund, which gave young girls from under-represented communities a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to Space Camp.

As a part of the Space for Her Fund, scholarship recipients were included in the Space for Her-os mentorship programme, which offers important coaching and guidance on different career paths in the science and tech sector.

Frito-Lay Variety Packs has partnered with the National Urban League and UNIDOS US to find the deserving girls – who have already expressed an interest in STEM – to receive these scholarships.


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