New Mentoring Projects Developing Tomorrow’s STEM Professionals Today

January is National Mentoring Month (, so each Friday this month, we have explored different aspects of mentoring and how this form of training can benefit your organization. Today’s Advisor reports on exciting new youth development mentoring projects in STEM subjects.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals in Philadelphia will be paired up with local youth in mentor relationships as part of the city’s award-winning plan to increase the number of youths engaged in STEM.

Philadelphia is one of seven winning cities in the US2020 City Competition, a national competition initiated by the White House that drew applications from public/private coalitions in 52 cities and engaged nearly 600 companies and civic organizations.

Cities were challenged to develop innovative models for dramatically increasing the number of STEM professionals mentoring and teaching students through hands-on projects. The competition is focused specifically on increasing STEM opportunities and interest among girls, underrepresented minorities, and children from low-income families.

“Addressing our city’s STEM education challenge will require hard work, but our coalition of STEM leaders is looking forward to it,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.

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“We have brought together a strong coalition of 50 partners from colleges and universities, corporations and businesses, and research institutions to impart their collective knowledge and provide high-impact STEM mentoring opportunities for Philadelphia youth,” said Dr. Lori Shorr, chief education officer in the mayor’s Office of Education and head of Philadelphia’s US2020 Coalition. “Exciting work is ahead of us.”

Saint-Gobain, a building materials company and Philadelphia’s lead partner in the city’s STEM coalition, supports mentoring youths. “Our more than 800 employees in the Philadelphia region are committed to sharing their building science, engineering, and math knowledge and technical expertise with youth through hands-on mentoring that will spur their interest in STEM careers,” said John Crowe, president and CEO, Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed Corporations. “It is our belief that through mentorship, we can help youth develop a blueprint that will serve them well through life’s journeys and challenges.”

The other winning city coalitions are Allentown, Pennsylvania; Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; San Francisco, California; and Wichita, Kansas.

The winners will share $1 million in financial, consulting, and staff support over the next year to help start local movements around STEM mentoring, including communications consulting and training as well as management consulting services. The grand prize winners (Allentown, Chicago, and Research Triangle Park) will receive funds to hire a local project manager.

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“Identifying and supporting programs that promote a healthy and robust STEM talent pipeline is crucial to the United States’ economic and national security,” said Pam Erickson, vice president of Corporate Affairs for Raytheon, a founding partner of US2020. “The US2020 City Competition has identified key programs that will provide new opportunities for businesses like Raytheon to help equalize access to STEM careers for underserved populations.”

“Our nation faces a stark, but significant, challenge: how do we encourage more young people to enter STEM fields and ensure that America remains competitive on the global stage?” said Blair Christie, chief marketing officer of Cisco®. “In addressing this challenge, we open the door of opportunity to a diverse new generation of young people.” Cisco is a partner of US2020 and the City Competition, and it has taken a pledge that 20 percent of its U.S. workforce will volunteer at least 20 hours in STEM mentoring by 2020.

“Few things are more important to young people and the future of American competitiveness than a quality education,” said Blair Blackwell, manager of education and corporate programs at Chevron, another corporate partner. “Our company not only provides financial support to hands-on and project-based STEM programs, our employees have also invested countless hours in mentoring the next generation of innovators.”