Press Release: New Multi-Year STEM Mentoring Campaign - US2020 – Announced Today at White House Science Fair

Contact: Holly Trippett, Citizen Schools, cell 301-452-3904, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


10 Founding Companies Have Invested More than $2 Million; Pledged to Lead Effort to Engage One Million Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Mentors by the Year 2020 

WASHINGTON, DC - April 22, 2013 - Today, leaders from ten prominent education non-profits and U.S. technology companies, including Fortune 500 firms Cisco, Cognizant, and SanDisk, announced the formation of US2020 at the 3rd Annual White House Science Fair. US2020 is an all-hands-on-deck initiative that aims to connect more science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals to students from kindergarten through college.

Speaking at the Science Fair, President Obama said, “When students excel in math and science, they help America compete for the jobs and industries of the future,” said President Obama. “That’s why I’m proud to celebrate outstanding students at the White House Science Fair, and to announce new steps my Administration and its partners are taking to help more young people succeed in these critical subjects."

Through the US2020 initiative, partner companies will lead a major scale-up of high-quality STEM mentoring, generally targeting 20 percent or more of their employees volunteering at least 20 hours a year as STEM mentors by the year 2020. US2020 will build the supply of mentors through CEO commitments, corporate volunteer engagement programs, and engagement among technology professionals. Together with its partners, this initiative aims to make mentoring the new normal in the STEM fields, just as pro-bono work is common in the legal profession.

The demand for professionals in the STEM fields is projected to dramatically outpace the supply of STEM graduates over the coming decades, partly because many students, particularly girls and underrepresented minorities, receive little exposure to STEM opportunities. A Lemelson-MIT survey found that a majority of teenagers may be discouraged from pursuing STEM careers because they do not know anyone who works in these fields and they do not understand what people in these fields do. The problem is particularly acute for populations that have been historically underrepresented in STEM fields. While earning a STEM degree is one important milestone in pursuing a STEM career, just 2.2 percent of Hispanics and Latinos, 2.7 percent of African Americans, and 3.3 percent of Native Americans and Alaska Natives have earned a first university degree in the natural sciences or engineering by age 24.

“Achievement and opportunity gaps are growing nationally in education and in STEM education specifically, driven by a chasm between the authentic learning opportunities available to upper and lower-income children,” said Eric Schwarz, co-founder and CEO of Citizen Schools and Executive Chairman of US2020. “In the United States, millions of scientists and technology experts have the ability to inspire students who need their support most; this effort will make it possible for them to enable these moments of discovery. Through hands-on projects and academic coaching, US2020 will give students a chance to connect with successful STEM professionals, providing a level of engagement that can change the trajectory of STEM education in the United States.”

Building off of President Obama’s launch of the “Educate to Innovate” campaign in 2009, US2020 plans to harness that spirit of innovation by engaging more professionals in the STEM fields. The long-term goal of US2020 is to mobilize one million STEM mentors annually by the year 2020, creating millions of moments of discovery -- those eureka moments when children launching rockets, building robots, or looking through microscopes open their mouths and eyes wide and open the door to a brighter future.

Today, the following founding corporate partners and members of US2020 announced their investment of more than $2 million collectively in private start-up funds and an additional $1 million in pro bono services to launch the organization and support high-quality STEM mentoring:

  • AfterCollege
  • Cisco
  • Cognizant
  • HotChalk
  • SanDisk
  • Weber Shandwick

“By 2015, it is expected that roughly 90% of jobs across all sectors will require technology skills. Therefore, it is critical that we invest today to create tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, innovators and engineers, and to ensure U.S. competitiveness,” said John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco. “Through our involvement with US2020, Cisco will encourage employees to spend more time mentoring youth and engaging them in hands-on learning experiences, which are vital to fostering a passion for the STEM fields. Cisco is proud to be part of this important initiative.”

“We are proud to join US2020 in the movement to inspire more student interest in STEM careers,” said Gordon Coburn, President of Cognizant. “As a leading provider of information technology, consulting and business process services, we understand the important role STEM professionals play in today’s global innovation economy. We look forward to working through this public-private partnership to facilitate hands-on learning opportunities that enable development and career interest for our nation’s young people.”

“SanDisk's role with US2020 builds on our tradition of education-focused philanthropic activities and the volunteer work of SanDisk employees,” said Sanjay Mehrotra, president and CEO, SanDisk. “We're proud to support efforts like US2020 that will improve student achievement in science, technology, engineering and math fields, and mentor young people who can strengthen our nation’s competitiveness and help technology companies find the talent we need to continue driving innovation.”

“Through our six year volunteer teaching partnership with Citizens Schools we have seen first-hand the positive impact mentoring has on young people as well as the inspiration it brings to our employees,” said Micho Spring, chair, Global Corporate Practice and president, Weber Shandwick New England. “We are dedicated to driving engagement around solutions that will create a more sustainable future. Inspiring tomorrow’s leaders is vital to our future success and we are honored to partner with US2020 to bring this important effort to scale.”

Non-profit founding partners, Citizen Schools, CodeNow, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, and TEALS, pledged to work with US2020 over the next few years to recruit hundreds of additional education non-profits and school districts that will commit to high standards in STEM mentoring, common and transparent metrics, and efforts to scale high-quality placement for STEM mentors in both school day and extended day, extended week, and extended year settings.

In his State of the Union Address in January, President Obama advocated for more public-private partnerships and career training in STEM fields to meet the growing demand for skilled professionals. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the demand for professionals in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math is projected to dramatically outpace the supply over the coming decades, with over two million anticipated STEM job openings by 2018 and a serious shortage of qualified college graduates to fill them.

The Obama Administration has worked on several initiatives to address this issue and celebrate the achievements of young students who are working towards a future in the STEM fields, including the White House Science Fair. The Science Fair featured 50 young inventors and innovators, including Cassidy Wright, a 6th grader from the Washington Irving Middle School in Roslindale, MA, who will attend the fair to share her project that was created during a Citizen Schools apprenticeship with volunteer teacher Mark Greenlaw of Cognizant.

About US2020

US2020 is a new organization formed through a partnership of leading education non-profits and corporate leaders in the STEM field. The initiative emerged from a White House call to generate big, innovative solutions to our STEM education challenge, with a focus on increasing access to STEM careers for girls, underrepresented minorities in the sciences, and low-income children. US2020 will be incubated within Citizen Schools, a leading education non-profit and will become a standalone non-profit entity in 2014. US2020 relies on a committed and growing community of public, private, non-profit and individual partners.