President Obama

A capital victory

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Guest Post by CEO Steven Rothstein

I wish you could have been with me last week in our nation’s capital. I am so inspired by so many of the students, principals, corporate partners, and others who joined us there.

On Monday, we had a special briefing on key education and STEM issues at the White House. On Tuesday, we organized, with the partnership of many other groups and organizations, the first-ever Expanded Learning Summit: Meeting In The Middle. Many joined in person and hundreds more participated in the conversation via live stream or social media. Then on Wednesday, we continued the advocacy and momentum and brought students, educators, corporate partners and our team to Capitol Hill for meetings with 36 Democratic and Republican members in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on key education issues.

The summit was the first time a group of this scale – including more than 55 distinguished speakers and panelists – has convened to discuss how expanded learning can help close the opportunity gap for our nation’s young people. We had a range of thought leaders and policy makers participate, including our chairman, Dr. Larry Summers; the Mayor of Washington D.C.; Wendy Spencer; the Deputy Mayor of New York; a representative from the George Bush Center, and literally dozens of the “best and the brightest” in our field.

We were honored to receive a special message from President Obama himself. “Events like this summit,” he wrote, “bring together those of us working on the front lines to make better use of educational time… If our next generation is going to meet the challenges of this century, they will need more time in the classroom.”

We are deeply grateful to all of those who participated in the summit, and to the many supporters and convenors who made this event possible. They are all highlighted on our event website. We are committed to the thousands of children whom we serve, and to growing the field of expanded learning. We believe that last week’s activities were critical in advancing this agenda.

As we recognize our 20 years of service, the Expanded Learning Summit highlights how much more there is to do in our next phase. In the coming days, we’ll continue to share opportunities to engage with these important ideas, including archived video from all summit sessions.

Yours in service,


CEO, Citizen Schools

P.S. We welcome your support to help more students across the country build the skills, access, and beliefs required for them to thrive as students and succeed as adults.


US2020 PRESS RELEASE: US2020 Announces 7 Cities as Winners of its STEM Mentoring Competition at the White House Science Fair


Responding to the President’s Call to Action, US2020 Announces 7 Cities as Winners of its STEM Mentoring Competition at the White House Science Fair

City Competition Winners Announced as Part of Multi-Year Campaign to Boost STEM Mentorship Across the Country

Media contact: Oscar Robles, US2020, 347.977.0022 (cell),

WASHINGTON, DC – Today at the White House Science Fair, responding to President Obama’s call to action to get more girls and boys engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), US2020 announced seven cities as the winners of a national competition to encourage mentoring in STEM.

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 coalitions, representing over 200 companies and organizations are:

The winners will share $1 million in financial, consulting, and staff support over the next year to help start local movements around STEM mentoring, including:

  • Communications consulting and training with Discovery Communications;
  • Funds to hire a local project manager (Grand Prize Winners only: Allentown, PA, Chicago, IL, and Research Triangle Park, NC);
  • Cohorts of capacity-building  AmeriCorps VISTA members;
  •  Access to US2020’s state-of the-art volunteer matching platform, built in partnership with Tata Consultancy Services;
  • Management consulting services from US2020 and external partners; and
  • Membership in the US2020 community of practice.

The plans developed by these seven cities represent some of the country’s most innovative thinking in engaging underrepresented and underserved youth in STEM.  To learn more about each city and for local contact details, visit their mini-profile pages here: AllentownChicagoIndianapolisPhiladelphiaResearch Triangle ParkSan Francisco, and Wichita.

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.  “Our nation faces a stark but significant challenge: how do we encourage more young people to enter STEM fields and ensure that America remains competitive on the global stage,” said Blair Christie, Cisco’s Chief Marketing Officer.  “In addressing this challenge, we open the door of opportunity to a diverse new generation of young people.  Cisco is so pleased to be a partner of US2020 and the City Competition.  It’s part of our enduring commitment to increasing America’s talent pipeline by supporting bold and innovative STEM mentoring programs.” 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.

Discovery Communications, parent company to the Discovery Channel, among others, has announced it will join US2020 as its exclusive media partner.  Leveraging its entire suite of networks and services, Discovery will develop a Public Service Announcement, which will star MythBusters' and Science Channel's Head Rush host Kari Byron, and will be focused on motivating girls and minorities to pursue STEM careers.  The PSA will air nationally across Discovery’s portfolio of 14 U.S. networks later this summer.  Additionally, Discovery Education, with US2020, will take students on a virtual field trip to the White House Science Fair as part of their Of The People: Live From the White House webinar series.  Discovery also will provide US2020 and its partners with a day-long summit focused on building marketing and communications campaigns and launch a mentor program with Discovery’s STEM-focused employees.  “We are extremely proud to support this fantastic STEM initiative.  Education is part of Discovery’s DNA and from our first broadcast, we set out to educate and entertain viewers about the world around them.  Helping to build the next generation of STEM professionals is an important part of our mission, and we are pleased to partner on this critical program, providing resources and platforms to drive this important goal,” said David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), in partnership with US2020 and Citizen Schools, has committed 25 AmeriCorps VISTA members, an investment of more than $550,000, to do the important work of engaging communities in this STEM mentoring initiative. Fifteen of these capacity-builders will serve in the winning cities, while 10 will support efforts nationwide.  “Our nation's success depends on helping every child reach his or her full potential in life,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. “We know the difference a mentor makes, and STEM mentoring can ignite a passion for math and science, building ladders of opportunity students might otherwise never have. We’re proud that US2020 is part of the STEM AmeriCorps family -- and just as proud that AmeriCorps VISTA members will strengthen STEM opportunities for students across the country.”

“Identifying and supporting programs that promote a healthy and robust STEM talent pipeline is crucial to the United States’ economic and national security,” said Pam Erickson, vice president of Corporate Affairs for Raytheon, a founding partner of US2020. “The US2020 City Competition has identified key programs that will provide new opportunities for businesses like Raytheon to help equalize access to STEM careers for underserved populations.”

Chevron announced today it has become the newest corporate partner of US2020, as part of its commitment to supporting hands-on STEM education. “Few things are more important to young people and the future of American competitiveness than a quality education,” said Blair Blackwell, manager of education and corporate programs at Chevron. “Our company not only provides financial support to hands-on and project-based STEM programs, our employees have also invested countless hours in mentoring the next generation of innovators.  We look forward to working with US2020 on expanding mentorship opportunities, especially with underrepresented youth.”

US2020 has announced a partnership with Department of Energy (DOE) and its Office of Economic Impact and Diversity and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.  US2020 and DOE will begin working together and sharing resources including DOE’s Women @ Energy and Energy Literacy programs.  US2020 is also exploring ways to support DOE’s work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to bring both mentoring and energy literacy into the outreach models for public housing authorities as part of a national pilot program.

This summer the US2020 volunteer matching platform will go live and provide cities, and corporate and educational partners with a powerful tool to engage professionals in STEM education nation-wide.  Tata Consultancy Services is a founding and technical partner and the pro bono developer of the platform.  "TCS is proud to be building US2020's dynamic online platform that will match industry professionals with best-in-class career mentor programs, serving underserved groups, at-risk youth and minorities." said Surya Kant, President of TCS North America, U.K. and Europe. "We are excited to see this platform support and accelerate STEM education across these impressive city initiatives, and nationally across the U.S."

Together, these 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.

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. US2020 will be incubated by Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit organization focused on expanding learning time for middle school students across the country, through mid-2014.

President Obama Stresses Need to Close the Opportunity Gap. Here's How...

SOTU 2014When President Obama opened Tuesday night’s State of the Union address talking about spending more time with students to boost the graduation rate, I cheered. As we heard last night, the American Dream is threatened by a lack of access to opportunity. President Obama said, "We have to prepare tomorrow’s workforce, by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education." At Citizen Schools, we couldn’t agree more.

Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools, Eric Schwarz, said that as Americans we need to “wake up to the fact that growing opportunity and achievement gaps mean that social mobility in America is now lower than it is in France, Germany, and Poland. And wake up to the fact that growing opportunity gaps hurt all of us—causing a 3 to 5 percent decline in Gross Domestic Product, according to the consulting firm McKinsey.”

7448628832_e99eb277a4_bWhat better way to close these dangerous gaps than to work with students on real-world projects that expose them to careers and allow them to get a taste of what it’s like to be a successful adult? That’s just what we see every day at Citizen Schools- middle school students working alongside professionals and college students to create business plans, launch rockets, plan cities, and more.

The President stressed the importance of supporting small business owners to increase mobility into the middle class. In Charlotte, North Carolina, a group of students had the chance to work with young entrepreneurs from Davidson College in an “apprenticeship” class called “How to Start a Business.” The students came up with the idea to create a t-shirt company that would represent the spirit of young people. They called it “Turn Up,” a phrase meaning live life to the fullest and be yourself.

turn upThe students, led by their “Citizen Teachers,” created a business plan, a logo, and a marketing plan to sell their shirts to the school community. Alyssa Pressman, a Citizen Schools teacher, said, “The students spoke confidently to parents, teachers, and volunteers about their product and they had so much pride in their t-shirts. When we were down to our last two shirts, the students started calling out, ‘Only 2 shirts left, buy them now before they are completely sold out!’’ Less than five minutes later, there were no more shirts left to sell.”

This small example is what the President’s address was all about. All students, and all Americans deserve the opportunity to pursue their dreams, and access to an education that will help them achieve those dreams. President Obama was right. When given the access to opportunity, the son of a factory worker can go to college, the son of single mother can become President of the United States, a middle school class in a low-income neighborhood in North Carolina can learn how to start a business, and all children can discover and achieve their dreams.

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.