US2020 Selects Top Seven Cities to Receive STEM Mentorship Support
Mark Atwater posted on May 27, 2014 |

Promoting STEM disciplines has been a central theme in recent conversations on education and the future workforce. One of them most important pieces to getting more STEM graduates is to get more than just talk.

One method of getting boots on the ground is through mobilizing current STEM workers. This is part of what US2020 is hoping to do with their City Competition. The competition solicited innovative mentorship plans which bring together a diverse set of resources from industry, academia and the community.Students learn by doing with STEM Mentors.

Mentorship is a key aspect of making the sometimes nebulous STEM initiative a concrete reality. If students can interact with STEM workers, they are more likely to take interest in what may seem like abstract professions. Many young students may not understand what it means to be an engineer, let alone what it means to be nuclear engineer or a propulsion engineer. Proximity can help the pieces fit.

US2020 is an organization aimed at providing large-scale and long-term solutions to STEM education challenges. They have a special focus on increasing the availability and desirability of STEM careers for girls, underrepresented minorities, and low-income children. US2020 hopes to get 1 million STEM mentors by the year 2020.

The way they propose to reach this goal is through a distribution of labor. They state in a recent press release, “This summer the US2020 volunteer matching platform will go live and provide cities, and corporate and educational partners with a powerful tool to engage professionals in STEM education nation-wide.”

Bringing together that diverse set of talents and interests is important to a cohesive message on STEM. The diversity isn’t limited to individuals, however. The City Competition also provides a wide representation geographically and demographically.

The seven cities awarded in the competition are:

·         Allentown, PA

·         Chicago, IL

·         Indianapolis, IN

·         Philadelphia, PA

·         Research Triangle Park, NC

·         San Francisco, CA

·         Wichita, KS

The winning cities will split $1 million of funding. The allocations include direct financial compensation, consultation and staff support over the next year to get local STEM mentorship programs going. Each city identified a coalition of partner institutions in their submissions (over 200 for the seven cities), but the winners also benefit from professional support from an even wider network of partners as well as volunteer matching.

Getting more kids interested in STEM - especially those from underrepresented groups - can be made a reality when everyone pitches in. Hopefully these pilot programs are fruitful and provide a sort of “best-practice” template for future endeavors.

The video below gives a general overview of US2020’s mission.

Photo courtesy of US2020

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