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Biz Journal: City launches platform matching STEM professionals with youth

September 22, 2014 Category: Uncategorized

This story was originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal

Philadelphia wants more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professionals mentoring youth – especially girls, low-income and minority students.

[Last week], the city launched a new online STEM resource center, which will showcase STEM education programs on its “ asset map,” as well as host a volunteer matching platform for mentors and students. The website isn’t completely finished yet, said Kendrick Davis, director of STEM initiatives for the mayor’s office of education. It’s still a work in progress.

Starting this fall, a city press release said, parents and teachers can enroll their students in out-of-school STEM mentoring opportunities facilitated through the resource center.

The city’s online STEM resource center is an overhaul of US2020– a national organization that announced an award for Philadelphia and six other cities in May. (Read more about how, here.)

The idea wasn’t proposed in Philadelphia’s US2020 application, though, Davis said.

“It’s more a product of what came after the grant was awarded,” he said.

At a press event [last] Monday, Mayor Michael Nutter also announced a contribution from IBM, which will provide professional consulting services to help the mayor’s office come up with a strategic citywide framework for STEM education and workforce development. The framework is being called STEMcityPHL, which will act almost as an umbrella (and branding) to the mentorship arm of US2020 PHL.

Building materials company Saint-Gobain, with its North American headquarters in Valley Forge, Pa., has been a major supporter of Philadelphia’s STEM efforts since US2020’s coalition formed. Carmen Ferrigno, the company’s vice president of communications, said Saint-Gobain has promised $150,000 to the program. Many Saint-Gobain employees are hoping to become mentors as well, he said.

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“We need to put a face on these careers and to show these people that all these things are available to them,” Ferrigno said. “We have to start early.”

Photo by NASA/Goddard Sawyer Rosenstein

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