The Junior Academy introduces exceptional students to an online community where they work with mentors and teams to solve real-world problems as part of a 70-day innovation challenge.
STEM professionals engage with STEM students in higher education for a minimum of 15 minutes per week on MentorNet's platform where they respond to discussion topics focused the non academic issues that keep students from persisting in their education.
By 2020 Philadelphia will be on track to growing a local talent base of diverse students who will become the region's next generation of STEM professionals.
When the City Competition was first announced, Philadelphia gathered a small group of STEM and mentoring professionals together to talk through the opportunity and discuss potential projects and partnerships. As our local movement began to gather steam, attendance at Coalition meetings began to grow exponentially. Many of the new participants were people who had not formally been invited by the meeting's organizers but instead had heard about the Coalition's work through the local "STEM grapevine." We fielded dozens of e-mails and calls from schools, universities, professional associations and nonprofits all of varying sizes who all wanted to join Philadelphia's burgeoning US2020 Coalition. Our final pre-submission Coalition meeting drew nearly 50 participants and by the deadline date we had 48 confirmed Coalition members. We expect these numbers to grow, the excitement to mount and the movement to continue to strengthen!
Philadelphia is a tale of two cities. Our city's poverty rate is the highest in the nation at a staggering 26.9%. Poverty affects the entire city, but some groups suffer from it more than others. Black Philadelphians and Latinos are twice as likely to be poor as whites. Most distressingly of all, 39% of Philadelphia's children are poor. Black and Latino children are underrepresented in the city's STEM professions and also fall behind the white population in graduation rates and college attainment. Yet at the same time, Philadelphia has a growing population, the largest growth of 20-34 year olds of any major city in the nation, a well-established "eds and meds" sectors, with the region being home to nearly 530,000 STEM jobs and positioned as the 8th largest region in the US for STEM employment.
Closing the gap of this "tale of two cities" is what motivates the Philadelphia Coalition. We are excited about being a part of the US2020 movement which has the potential to directly connect, in a very meaningful way, professionals in our strong STEM sectors with children and youth disconnected and underrepresented in the growing STEM fields in our city and region.
In Philadelphia and across the country, there is a critical need for increased participation in STEM related education and fields. Our city has incredible STEM resources available to excite, educate and prepare our young people - especially girls, children of color and children from low-income families. As a part of US2020, we have brought together a coalition of STEM partners from colleges and universities, corporations and businesses, and research institutions to impart their collective knowledge and mentor Philadelphia students. I want to thank US2020 for responding to President Obama's call for innovative solutions to the nation's STEM education challenge.”
Aside from having the opportunity to provide Philadelphia children with access to high-impact STEM mentoring engagements, the Philadelphia Coalition is very excited to roll out Centralized Resource Center. In fact, at the Coalition meeting where our proposed US2020 project plans were announced, one of our members mentioned that her organization, a local science center, was working on a grant requesting support of a staff person to perform the same local STEM scan to catalogue the abundance of Philadelphia's STEM resources. Clearly, Philadelphia has a wealth of STEM programming and activities but no collective directory for these resources to not only disseminate information but to mobilize volunteer efforts. The Coalition's Resource Center and Mentor Matching platform will provide a valuable service to the STEM community and educators and will build awareness of STEM education and mentorship opportunities for our deserving youth.
In addition, we are very interested to test and learn how to recruit STEM professionals in a way that meets the needs of working professionals (or retirees and students) and youth simultaneously and do this at scale. We don't want incremental change, we want big impactful change - we want to develop a culture where all STEM professionals are compelled to mentor and see this as part of their job. We want to create a citywide culture of mentorship.
Philadelphia is uniquely positioned to implement high-impact STEM mentoring city-wide because we have all the right ingredients to make it work. When considering our city's resources and Coalition members' international and national reputations as leaders in their field Philadelphia has:
- A track record of success in collective impact;
- Strong private sector partners include Dow Chemical, GSK, IBM and Microsoft;
- Nearly 530,000 STEM jobs, making it the 8th largest region in the US for STEM employment;
- A reputation as an "eds and meds" city, making it one of America's leading centers for higher education with over 100 degree-granting institutions;
- A wealth of in-school and out-of-school time programs, coalitions or initiatives working to provide STEM-related exposure opportunities to our city's youth;
- A renewed commitment to STEM by the Philadelphia School District, which is undertaking a strategic review of its STEM curriculum;
- A highly committed Mayor who is passionate and ambitious about the future of Philadelphia and especially its youth.