North Carolina Makes a Strong Showing in the U2020 City Competition

Both Charlotte and the Research Triangle Park are among the 13 cities selected as a first round finalist in the US2020 City Competition, an effort to bolster STEM mentorship for underrepresented students. The finalists were chosen out of 52 applicants nationwide. The US2020 City Competition capitalizes on the role of cities as centers for innovation, supporting outstanding efforts to build science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) mentoring capacity at the local level.  Each city was asked to discuss their current initiatives and plans to significantly increase STEM education and mentoring opportunities for women and girls, low-income students and underrepresented minorities. “Through the City Competition, cities are tapping into their most powerful resources – their citizens,” said Eric Schwarz, executive chairman of US2020 and CEO of Citizen Schools. “With representation from such diverse coalitions, we know that we’ve begun to stimulate a movement and are well on our way to making 1 million high-quality STEM mentoring matches by the year 2020."

Members of Charlotte’s “Guiding Coalition,” who have endorsed the city’s application, include Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the City of Charlotte, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Bank of America, Duke Energy, Discovery Place, and the Arts & Science Council.

The coalition’s plan includes efforts to tie existing STEM mentorships programs together, while cultivating new relationships with businesses and nonprofits. Charlotte’s team will develop a comprehensive menu of options for STEM mentors to become engaged—everything from guest speaking opportunities to hosting interns and apprentices.

“We are so proud to see Charlotte recognized for the work its citizens already do to support STEM education, and we’re excited to show the country what is possible in the future,” said Jake House, executive director of Citizen Schools North Carolina, which co-sponsored the Charlotte application.

The Research Triangle Park submitted a Round 1 application for US2020 grant funds as the leader of a Triangle-wide coalition of park companies, non-profits, education and learning centers, public schools and city governments. Key partners include Research Triangle High School, Citizen Schools North Carolina, Cisco Systems, Quintiles, Toshiba, FIRST Robotics, the Environmental Protection Agency, Durham and Wake Counties, and the East Durham Children’s Initiative.

The city competition was announced by President Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative in June. The first round finalists will move onto the second round of the selection process, joining peers and STEM experts in Boston for "Ideas Camp," a 2-day strategy session on December 4-5 to help teams move their plans from concept to implementation.

The second round applications will be due in January and the winning cities will be identified in February. The winning cities will share nearly $1 million in resources from US2020, based on their plans to significantly increase STEM mentoring for girls, low-income youth, and students of color, including:

    • A cohort of on the ground service corps members to help implement their plans
    • Access to a state of the art online volunteer matching platform
    • Funds to hire a local project manager
    • Pro bono consulting services from a top consulting firm to help operationalize their plans
    • Participation in communities of practice with national leaders in STEM
    • National recognition as leaders in the STEM mentoring movement

The other winning cities are Allentown, PA; Boston; Chicago; Houston; Indianapolis; New York; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Tulsa, OK; and Wichita, KS.

You can read more about the US2020 City Competition in recent articles from the Charlotte Business Journal and the NC STEM Learning Network.