Published Author Category STEM RTP

Responding to President’s Call to Action, US2020 Announces Research Triangle Park as a Grand Prize Winner in its National STEM Mentoring Competition at The White House Science Fair

Competitionwinners announced as part of multi-year campaign to boost STEM mentorship especially for girls and underprivileged children

WASHINGTON, DCToday at the White House Science Fair, responding to President Obama’s call to get more girls and boys engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), US2020 announced seven communities, including the Research Triangle Park, as the winners of a national competition to encourage mentoring in STEM.

RTP is a Grand Prize Winner, boasting a coalition of 41 powerhouse corporate sponsors and educational organizations who will extend the federal funding over six years and provide the mentors and leadership to make this project a success.

“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, CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation, the not-for-profit organization that operates the park and which applied for the 2020 grant. “Research shows that many children have an intrinsic interest in science, technology, engineering and math, but never pursue STEM careers because they have little exposure to professionals in those worlds. 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.”

“We genuinely hope this grant is the seed money for what becomes a lasting public-private partnership that will benefit our students, and our regional economy,” Geolas said.

Sponsored by Cisco and launched at the Clinton Global Initiative, the US2020 City Competition challenged cities to develop innovative models for dramatically increasing the number of STEM professionals mentoring and teaching students through hands-on projects. US2020 is specifically focused on increasing STEM opportunities and STEM excitement for girls, underrepresented minorities and children from low-income families. Public/private coalitions from 52 cities across the nation applied, engaging nearly 600 companies and civic organizations.

The 7 winning city/regional coalitions, representing over 200 companies and organizations, are:

  • Allentown, PA; Chicago, IL; Indianapolis, IN; Philadelphia, PA; Research Triangle Park, NC; San Francisco, CA; Wichita, KS

The winners will share $1million in financial, consulting and staff support over the next year to launch their plans, including:

  • Communications consulting and training with Discovery Communications;
  • Funds to hire a local project manager (only for Grand Prize Winners, including RTP);
  • Cohorts of capacity-building AmeriCorps VISTA members;
  • Access to US2020’s state-of the-art volunteer matching platform, built in partnership by Tata Consultancy Services;
  • Pro bono management consulting services; and
  • Membership in the US2020 community of practice.

“From an exceptional pool of finalists, these winning coalitions demonstrated ambitious visions for the proposed scale and quality of their mentor engagements, as well as the expertise to make their plans feasible, and strong potential for sustainability beyond the life of the US2020 grant,” said Eric Schwarz, Executive Chairman of US2020 and CEO and Co-Founder of Citizen Schools.

The plans developed by these seven cities and regions represent some of the country’s most innovative thinking in engaging underrepresented and underserved youth in STEM.

“It has been a true honor to lead RTP’s Guiding Coalition of corporate, non-profit, and district-level school partners in moving this transformative initiative forward,” said Lisa Jemison, director of programs for the Research Triangle Foundation. “Our partners contributed countless hours for the last eight months to get us to where we are today. It’s on their behalf and the children of North Carolina and the bright future of our state that we’re accepting our award at the White House today.”

Cisco is a founding partner of US2020 and the official sponsor of the US2020 City Competition. Cisco continues to build upon its two-decade long commitment to STEM education, supporting major programs to develop a robust pipeline of students interested in entering STEM fields. As part of its commitment to US2020, Cisco has pledged that 20% of its U.S. workforce will volunteer 20 hours or more in STEM mentoring by 2020.

“We have an incredible opportunity before us. By partnering with the next generation of leaders, we have the unique ability to live out our commitment to STEM education and lead the evolution of change in the market. Cisco is pleased to be a part of US2020 and the City Competition. It is with great excitement that I look into the future and the impact this program will have on young professionals, the industry and the broader economy,” said Steve Yager, VP of Technical Support at Cisco and RTP US2020 Executive Sponsor.

Helping to guide and refine the mentor relationships between the schools and corporate sponsors are numerous non-profits and other agencies with a mission of bolstering STEM education.

“I have had the privilege of witnessing first-hand the impact of what it means to have people from the community engage with students in order to prepare them for success in high school, college, and beyond,” said Jake House, Executive Director of Citizen Schools in NC, an organization aimed at closing the opportunity and achievement gaps among middle school students with academic support and apprenticeships. “That synergy of experts and professionals leading and motivating our next generation is exactly the magic of Citizen Schools and what we hope to see transpire at a bigger level as more organizations get involved with our students through US2020.”

US2020 emerged from a White House call to generate big, innovative solutions to our STEM education challenge. The STEM mentoring competition was designed to tap into the convening power of city leadership as well as the potential for national service to play a leading role in helping the nation address its STEM education needs. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), in partnership with US2020 and Citizen Schools, has made a total investment of 29 AmeriCorps VISTAs to do the important work of engaging communities in this STEM mentoring initiative. Nineteen of these capacity-builders will serve in the seven winning cities. The Research Triangle Park, as grand prize winner, will benefit from the work of three Americorps VISTAs, as well as a fulltime project manager.

Today, new national US2020 partnerships were announced with Chevron and Discovery Communications as well as the Department of Energy. Together, these leading cities, US2020 and its partners are pushing forward a movement. The vision of this movement is an America where every child, especially every girl, every child of color and every child from a low-income family, has the opportunity to be inspired to pursue a STEM career.

US2020’s founding partners are Cisco, Cognizant, Raytheon, SanDisk and Tata Consultancy Services, now joined by Chevron, with additional support coming from Discovery Communications, Fidelity Investments, HP, Salesforce, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

“We are thrilled to be involved in the US2020 initiative as it is an extension of our long time relationship with Citizen Schools,” says Joan Vinas, senior vice president and regional leader at Fidelity Investments in Durham. “Volunteering and giving back to the communities where Fidelity employees work and live is a core value and in North Carolina alone, more than 30 percent of our employees volunteered their time and skills to support financial and STEM education programs in nearby public schools in 2013. We can build on this volunteerism and take pride in contributing to an important program such as US2020.”

About US2020

US2020 is a new organization formed through a partnership of leading education non-profits and corporate leaders in the STEM field. The long-term goal of the initiative is to mobilize 1 million STEM mentors annually by the year 2020, creating millions of moments of discovery – those life changing events when children launch rockets, build robots, write a computer program, or look into the farthest reaches of the universe. US2020 relies on a committed and growing community of public, private, non-profit and individual partners.

About RTF

Research Triangle Foundation is the private, not-for-profit that has managed Research Triangle Park since its founding in the late 1950s. The 7,000-acre park is home to more than 190 companies, with more than 39,000 employees. The Park was built upon a public-private partnership model with some of the nation’s largest research companies, along with its three founding research universities, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C. State and Duke.