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.
Our vision is to ensure future generations of STEM talent by fostering a culture of high-impact STEM volunteerism among local corporations and STEM workforce. Learn more about our project here.
Our mayor made a proclamation encouraging collaboration among various organizations in the Wichita area to respond to the call to action from US2020. There was a huge response from a diverse group including youth-serving nonprofits and local industries that were keen to work together to augment STEM education.
We have a sizable urban population, but our local universities struggle to attract applicants to STEM programs. We have to find new, innovative ways to ignite STEM interest in students early on so that they have the passion and motivation to pursue these things through college and beyond. In particular, female students, low-income children, and students of color lack the enrichment opportunities of their peers. We envision STEM mentors having a huge impact on the lives of these children in our community.
The US2020 recognition is a great opportunity for the Wichita community to raise awareness about the increasingly important issue of improving STEM mentoring and education. The City of Wichita is eager to support the US2020 team in its efforts to go from finalist to a national winner. I'm really excited about future possibilities. Growing more STEM mentors, particularly among underrepresented groups, supports our youth, our schools and our economic development efforts to create and retain jobs as well as talented young professionals.”
We are actively using key connections within the guiding coalition to significantly increase the supply of volunteers and mentors in the STEM community. We are also working alongside youth-serving organizations to leverage their expertise and ensure that our volunteers can have real impact on inspiring the next generation of students.
We are continuing to hone our definition of high-impact STEM mentoring so that we can ensure all of our volunteers can have an impact. By offering a range of opportunities from one-time volunteer experiences to ongoing mentoring commitments we are working to meet all STEM professionals where they are at with their schedules and commitment levels. In addition, we are seeking out innovative strategies to ensure that we can hook volunteers and provide them with fruitful, enjoyable experiences that will set them on the path from one-time to volunteer to more long-term engagement.
There are three factors that contribute to Wichita being a center of innovation in STEM mentoring:
- A large STEM industry providing thousands of potential volunteers
- A diverse community of youth-serving organizations
- An urban population engaged in providing opportunities for youth through volunteering and civic engagement