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.
The Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance (TRSA) connects the dots around Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in northeastern Oklahoma. TRSA is focused on providing broad, deep, and innovative pathways for students to pursue high impact STEM careers. As a backbone organization, TRSA serves the STEM ecosystem through their goals of the 4 C’s: Collaboration, Cultivation, Communication and Calculation. TRSA is an initiative of the Oklahoma Innovation Institute, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation committed to building an innovative economy in the Tulsa region. TRSA and US2020 were born together. When TRSA was only 16 hours old, our second design studio learned of the opportunity to participate as a US2020 City competitor.
In October 2013, the Oklahoma Innovation Institute (OII) commissioned a 4 month outside study to facilitate the design and establishment of a STEM alliance for our region. This important strategic planning was led by the nationally recognized Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES). This effort was funded by the Tulsa Area United Way and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Applying for the US2020 City competition served as an immediate case study of the power and impact of the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance. TRSA learned of the US2020 City competition on the Wednesday before applications were due Friday. This urgent call to respond to a worthy and ambitious dream served TRSA by quickly forging authentic partnerships that continue to serve the Alliance today. This competition was something no single alliance member could accomplish alone, but together our infant organization had just provided its first proof of concept, and most importantly, we knew we had done it together. There was an immediate and palpable sense of unity that still pervades our work today. Competing in the US2020 City competition was a force multiplier in accelerating the destruction of barriers and reaching clarity of purpose for TRSA.
While the framework of TRSA was being crafted by several dozen community STEM stakeholders, TRSA was already large and agile enough to continue establishing its framework while deploying a team to go after the US2020 City Competition. Tulsa is known as a city of generous doers, and TRSA certainly sees this as new partners continue to join us from industry, education, community organizations and philanthropy. The interest is so strong, we race to keep pace with the incredible demands from our beautiful city. In a testament to Tulsa’s collaborative spirit and the strong leadership within TRSA, an application was submitted less than 48 hours after the announcement of the competition was made aware to TRSA. We decided to apply for the US2020 City competition because it fit so perfectly with the dreams we already had for the STEM work in Tulsa. We knew from the beginning that bringing STEM professionals shoulder to shoulder with students was the “secret sauce” to success in STEM education. While the turnaround was extremely short, we just could not pass up the opportunity to work with leaders in STEM mentorship from like-minded cities across the country.
In Tulsa and across the nation, need for increased participation in STEM related education is greater than ever. Tulsa is a can do city with a big heart! Our strengths are coming to full bloom in our ‘all hands-on deck’ efforts in mentorship across the region. This momentum, coupled with incredible STEM resources, is being harnessed to inspire the next generation of innovators – especially girls, children of color and children from low-income families,” said Mayor Dewey Bartlett. My Wife Victoria Bartlett has worked extremely hard these past 5 years with our “Mentoring to the Max” program in Tulsa Schools.” Thanks to Tulsa being a founding member of this dynamic US2020 City Network, we have built a strong Alliance of STEM partners from colleges and universities, corporations and businesses, government and community organizations to impart their collective knowledge and mentor Tulsa students. I want to thank US2020 for leading the charge in finding innovative solutions to the nation’s STEM education challenge.”
The purpose of the TRSA organization and management structure is to create an institution that is flexible and inclusive enough to welcome all stakeholders yet includes sufficient structure and organizational support to facilitate and coordinate the work that needs to be done. The goals of TRSA are as follows:
Calculate – Create common performance metrics for members to conduct pre- and post- surveys that measure the efficacy of TRSA STEM programs and events.
Communicate – Increase awareness and access to STEM resources and activities with a centralized information sharing network to inform TRSA stakeholders and STEM advocates in the Tulsa region.
Collaborate – Use shared resources of all kinds to broaden the impact of TRSA’s dynamic “mesh network” of STEM community members in the Tulsa region. Working together we can make much greater use of the resources that we have.
Cultivate – Cultivate the STEM ecosystem in northeastern Oklahoma through robust support and initiation of STEM education events and activities while securing resources necessary for our initiatives.
We find that in the dynamic, organic, and innovative work of building STEM mentorship in Tulsa, we are continually inspired and urged to strive further than before to reach all students in the Tulsa region by our sister cities in the City Network. We need the constant and consistent encouragement, ingenuity and passion we catch from other great STEM cities who have heard the call and taken up this vital work. We are driven to provide broad, deep, and innovative pathways for Tulsa area students, and only through collaboration and the sharing of best practices, successes, and failures can we ensure the quality. US2020 City Network allows Tulsa, and all other participating cities, to ensure that quality through a collaboration across the nation.