Active US2020 STEM mentors overwhelmingly cite initially hearing about their volunteer opportunity from a friend or colleague - second only to hearing about it from their employer. If we are going to bring STEM mentoring to the scale needed to address our country’s STEM education challenge, we need to treat every volunteer not just as an educator, mentor and coach for youth, but also as a powerful promoter and recruiter for our work. It is pretty simple: if volunteers have a great experience volunteering with your organization, they will encourage their friends and colleagues to participate as well.
The Excellence in Volunteer Experience award will recognize education partners that provide high-quality, well-supported engagements for their volunteers during a spring semester or academic year STEM mentoring program.
Recruiting volunteers can be difficult. It can be even more difficult to recruit volunteers with specialized skillsets. Through the US2020 mentor-matching platform, we have seen volunteer opportunities that require content expertise in everything from coding to urban gardening. In order to tap into the wide spectrum of passions and talents STEM professionals can provide young people access to, youth-serving organizations collaborate with companies, professional associations and institutions of higher education to recruit dedicated and inspiring mentors.
Youth-serving organizations can nominate their top volunteer-providing partners for the Excellence in Volunteer Mobilization STEM Mentoring Award. We are particularly looking for examples of effective strategies for volunteer mobilization that can be shared with the wider field.
Leadership from public agencies and officials is critical to the growth of STEM mentoring efforts, from raising awareness about STEM mentoring to convening key stakeholders to tapping the mentoring talents of experienced government employees. When the public sector partners with the corporations employing large STEM workforces or the nonprofits serving youth, STEM mentoring magic can happen. Connecting students with talented volunteers who can provide compelling, real-world STEM learning opportunities requires a collaborative, cross-sectoral approach. This award category seeks to define what works, how it works and begin to develop blueprints for effective, cross-sectoral partnerships that break down barriers for students and communities.
US2020’s education partners provide mentorship opportunities for students to engage with STEM professionals via hands-on activities and projects. Particularly within the sciences, multiple studies have shown that hands-on activities spark student interest in science, and greater motivation to do science. Perhaps most importantly, students’ interest persisted
long after participation in the hands-on activities had ended.
The Most Innovative Hands-on Project award will recognize innovative and scalable hands-on projects with the potential to spark student interest and skill building in STEM.
Research has shown that student interest in STEM has been found to be more strongly predictive of the pursuit of a STEM degree than academic achievement. Therefore, programs that are able to create and maintain student interest in STEM -- to spark moments of discovery -- are an important tool in building and maintain diverse student engagement in STEM activities.
The Excellence in Student Impact award will recognize organizations that demonstrate an ability to implement programs that increase student interest and academic engagement in STEM.
Today’s students are tomorrow’s employees and innovators. Students need to see how studying science and engineering translates into a career; they need strong role models and mentors to share their pathways to success."
-Blair Blackwell, Manager of Education and Corporate Programs, Chevron (Founding sponsor of the STEM Mentoring Awards)
Our commitment to US2020 goes beyond engaging employee mentors, and is focused on building a national technology infrastructure and sustainable ecosystem for mentoring. Therefore we take great pride in being a founding sponsor of the US2020 STEM Mentoring Awards.”
-Surya Kant, President of North America, UK and Europe, Tata Consultancy Services (Founding sponsor of the STEM Mentoring Awards)
We at IBM are honored with this national recognition of the Baton Rouge Center and our corporate culture of technology innovation and volunteerism. IBM's mission in Baton Rouge is to serve our clients with an educated, dynamic and skilled workforce."
-Christine Alford, General Manager of the IBM Service Center in Baton Rouge
I’m incredibly pleased with the level of our employee participation and dedication to student mentorship. Being recognized for our involvement is an honor, but the real reward is the service we have been able to provide. Volunteering has been as gratifying for the mentors from the Bank as it was for the kids involved."
-David Becker, President and CEO, First Internet Bank
This award affirms FirstHand’s unique approach and the Science Center’s commitment to career-focused STEAM Mentoring. We believe that FirstHand is creating something special at the Science Center, as we continue to open doors for the minds of tomorrow.“
-David Clayton, Firsthand Director