RTP one of seven winners of STEM-focused mentorship contest

May. 27, 2014 @ 01:29 PM

The White House has named the Research Triangle Park as one of seven winners of a competition that challenged cities to develop science, technology, engineering and math mentorship programs.
The seven locations will share $1 million to launch a network of STEM-focused mentorship programs. Through the programs, they will connect mentors from companies in each region to students.
“We are so proud and delighted to have been chosen to be a grand prize winner in the pursuit of such an important goal,” said Bob Geolas, the CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina, the nonprofit that manages the Research Triangle Park.
The Research Triangle Foundation made the application that got RTP in the running for the competition, according to a news release. The nonprofit said a coalition 41 corporate sponsors and educational organizations will be working here to provide the mentors and leadership for the program.
“We here at RTP are uniquely positioned to connect those children with people who have careers in these industries and with organizations who can help us train those professionals as mentors,” Geolas said in the statement.
The STEM mentorship network was one of several initiatives expected to be announced by President Obama as part of his “Education to Innovate” campaign, which aims to get more girls and boys into STEM.
“When students excel in math and science, they’re laying the groundwork for helping America compete for the jobs and industries of the future,” Obama said.
For the STEM mentorship network, RTP and the six cities were chosen through the US2020 City Competition.
The competition challenged cities to develop models for building STEM mentorship for students, particularly for girls, under-represented minorities, and children from low-income families.
US2020 is an organization that grew out of a White House call to generate innovative solutions to the country’s STEM education challenge. It has a goal of matching 1 million STEM mentors with students by 2020.
Cisco is a founding partner of US2020 and was the official sponsor of the competition. The California-based company, which has operations in RTP, has made a pledge that 20 percent of its U.S. workforce will volunteer 20 hours or more in STEM mentoring by 2020.
Alongside RTP, other winners were Allentown, Pennsylvania; Chicago; Indianapolis; Philadelphia; San Francisco; and Wichita, Kansas.
US2020 will provide them with financial support, VISTA AmeriCorps members, consulting from Discovery Communications, access to the US2020 mentor-matching platform, and other services.
In addition, Discovery Communications will air a public service announcement starring “MythBusters” and Science Channel's “Head Rush” host Kari Byron focusing on the need to recruit STEM mentors to help encourage students at a young age, especially girls and minorities who are under-represented in STEM careers.