Volunteers come from all walks of life. Usually, they choose a cause that they feel passionate about or that they can relate to. Most volunteers are interested in making the difference and leaving a legacy in the organization they serve. Whether that impact is sustainable or not, depends on the community and the organization itself. However, their heart, dedication, and joy to serve others is what matters the most. In observance of National Volunteer Month, we decided to celebrate the individuals that bring our mission to life: our volunteers. Their passion, courage, and determination to join us in closing the opportunity gap inspires us everyday.
Mariana is currently fifteen years old. As many other students around her age, she enjoys playing with her little sister and learning new subjects. Mariana’s family moved to the United States from El Salvador in 2016 on a quest for enhanced opportunities. “We left so I could have additional chances to work and study,” she says. It has been arduous to move here because I miss my aunts who are still in El Salvador”.
This morning, US2020 announced the winners of the third annual US2020 STEM Mentoring Awards. The awards are a national platform to celebrate and encourage exceptional work in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) mentoring. Awards were handed out at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, where national leaders in this field are discussing strategies for advancing STEM opportunity in the United States.
In the spring of 2011, Jose Melo, a fifth grader at the Dever McCormack School in Dorchester, MA, took his first apprenticeships with Citizen Schools: It’s All About Gummy Bears and Bootstrap. In the midst of learning the science behind what makes gummy bears gummy and what it takes to program a video game, he discovered an appetite for science and math. By the time he graduated from eighth grade three years later, Jose had completed a total of twelve apprenticeships through Citizen Schools - all of which had a focus on STEM.
Today, Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit that partners with public schools to provide academic enrichment in underserved communities in four states, is announcing a major financial investment of $500,000 from Google.org, bringing the company’s total support of Citizen Schools to over $4.5 million.
Since 2015, the staff at Cavelight Films, a New York-based production company, have led apprenticeships inspiring students to be creative, while teaching technical skills exercised in the film production field. Last spring, Jordan Ehrlich -(Cavelight Films) and Caitlin McNally -( National Geographic) guided students through a 10-week Documentary filming class at the Urban Assembly Unison Middle School in Brooklyn. The students had the opportunity to create a documentary that showcased Citizen Schools programing at Urban Assembly Unison Middle School.
I’m a champion for environmental sustainability. As a member of Cisco’s Corporate Affairs team, I’m constantly looking for ways to be a global problem solver and positively impact people, society, and especially the planet. From employee initiatives like reducing paper cup usage to cross-functional teams like Make IT Green to this month’s Earth Aware activities, there are plenty of opportunities for employees to become champions for the planet.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, US2020 announced the winners of the second annual US2020 STEM Mentoring Awards. The awards are a national platform to celebrate and encourage exceptional work in the STEM mentoring field. US2020 and co-founding sponsors Chevron and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) are recognizing the winners for their achievements and innovations in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) mentoring. The US2020 award winners will also be participating in a White House STEM Mentoring Symposium that is occurring on August 11th. The second annual US2020 STEM Mentoring Awards included three award categories and two winners per category. Applications were evaluated by a cross-sector panel of judges. By category, this year’s winners are: Excellence in Public-Private Partnerships (CH2M and Genentech, Inc); Excellence in Corporate Culture (Yahoo and Covestro LLC); Excellence in Volunteer Experience (EnCorps STEM Teachers Fellowship and FIRST North Carolina).
Momentum in the field was evident as over 150 organizations participated in this year’s award series. “We are thrilled to see the variety and quality of organizations and companies submitting applications to the 2016 STEM Mentoring Awards,” said Nick Hutchinson, Executive Director of US2020. “Quality, skills-based mentorship is uniquely positioned to address the barriers to STEM access and achievement and has been shown to provide academic and emotional benefits for students, particularly at-risk youth.”
Excellence in Public-Private Partnerships, a new award category in 2016, was designed to highlight innovative collaborations in STEM mentoring that have the ability to scale. The award recognizes effective, cross-sector partnerships that are eliminating barriers for underserved and underrepresented students and communities. Genentech is a biotechnology company dedicated to discovering, developing, and manufacturing medicines to treat serious diseases such as cancer. Genentech has created a multi-year commitment that makes science accessible for students within South San Francisco. Genentech’s Futurelab program partners with South San Francisco Unified School District and mobilizes Genentech employees to explore the wonders of biotechnology with young people. Futurelab is designed to engage students from kindergarten through the completion of high school, while creating opportunities for students to develop meaningful relationships with Genentech professionals. CH2M, a global engineering firm, in concert with its charitable foundation and The Nature Conservancy, have partnered to serve more than 560 predominately underserved and underrepresented students at the Walter Biddle Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences in Philadelphia. Their multi-faceted project aims to teach students about natural infrastructure and its important role in sustaining healthy communities through project-based learning, including retrofitting their own school. The program creates opportunities for CH2M employees to play a meaningful role in the design, implementation and maintenance of the project. The project was noted for its strong potential to scale nationally.
US2020’s Excellence in Corporate Culture award honors companies that are promoting and supporting a culture of STEM volunteerism across all levels of their business operations. Yahoo promotes STEM volunteerism across 32 global offices through programs and policies that empower all employees to highimpact STEM mentoring. From their innovative paid-time-off and matching grant policies to their flagship Summer of Service campaign, Yahoo positions employees to serve as champions in their communities. Covestro LLC honors its commitment to employee volunteerism through their corporate social responsibility program, i3 - Ignite, Imagine, and Innovate, which supports local community engagement and provides guidelines, classroom kits and other materials that empower employees in the classroom. The i3 program, combined with a robust paid-time-off for volunteerism program has mobilized nearly 10 percent of its domestic workforce this year alone to high-impact STEM volunteerism.
The Excellence in Volunteer Experience award recognizes US2020 Education Partners that provide high-quality, well-supported engagements for their volunteers. Winners are selected based on the survey results submitted by their volunteers. EnCorps STEM Teachers Fellowship is forging unique public-private partnerships to recruit, train, and support STEM professionals to teach and tutor California’s most needy students in math and science. FIRST North Carolina, uses robotics to inspire youth to pursue careers in science and technology and engages STEM professionals in powerful ways. FIRST North Carolina volunteers are individually volunteering an average of over 200 hours per year. Nationally, FIRST engages 400,000 K-12 students and over 200,000 STEM professionals in its programs every year.
“Young people today need to acquire a transdisciplinary set of skills and a foundational knowledge of STEM disciplines, combined with an artistic and creative mind, in order to succeed,” said Surya Kant, President, North America, UK and Europe, TCS. We are proud of the dedicated efforts and achievements of the STEM Mentoring Awards winners, who are key contributors to shaping the youth of America for 21st STEM careers.
Please join us in celebrating these exceptional civic efforts to ignite moments of discovery for the next generation of leaders in STEM.
US2020 also announced finalists: Excellence in Corporate Culture (Booz Allen Hamilton); Excellence in Volunteer Experience (University City Science Center, Philadelphia, PA); Excellence in Public-Private Partnerships (Indiana University School of Informatics at IUPUI and WakeEd Partnership).
Cristin Mitchell -- Ellis Strategies, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org | 617.308.0771
Nikole Saulsberry -- US2020 email@example.com | 832.465.5291
US2020, a division of Citizen Schools, developed from a White House call to generate large-scale, innovative solutions to our STEM education challenges. Its mission is to dramatically scale the number of STEM professionals mentoring and teaching students through hands-on projects with a focus on serving underrepresented communities -- girls, underrepresented minorities, and low-income children. US2020 is supported by national Co-Investors: Alcoa, CA Technologies, Chevron, Cisco, Discovery Communications, HP, Raytheon, SanDisk, Tata Consultancy Services, and Texas Instruments. Through partnerships at the national level and coalitions at the city level, US2020 has built a network of more than 250 organizations in 13 cities actively working to scale the STEM mentoring field, to align the field on common metrics, and to advance a focus on quality. The match-making process and data collection is supported by a dynamic online platform built by pro-bono developer Tata Consultancy Services. To learn more, visit www.us2020.org
About Citizen Schools
Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support, in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit www.citizenschools.org
Reggy Liger tries to live by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s advice to be successful, which includes kindness to children, and leaving lasting improvement on the world around him. He works towards both as a Cisco employee and as a volunteer Citizen Teacher in Durham, North Carolina. Reggy is living with a mission to give back.
A deeply humble person, Reggy tells us he doesn’t view volunteering as something for which he should receive credit. “I always tell people, especially when it comes to volunteering, this is not something I want credit for,” says Reggy. “I don’t think that’s altruism. Whenever it comes to giving back, I try to be altruistic in what I do. I give back because it’s the right thing to do.”
We celebrate Reggy as our April Citizen Teacher of the Month for his inspiring work at Neal Middle School.
Why do you volunteer as a Citizen Teacher?
It goes back to family. I always want to better those that come behind me. Everything starts when you’re a child, your values and beliefs. It’s very important that we give students aspirations and role models to live up to and aspire to. I love volunteering. As a human, it is our responsibility to give back. It’s the only way we are going to progress as a species.
What apprenticeships have you taught?
I taught the Future of Food apprenticeship. That was my first experience with Citizen Schools. This semester I am doing my own curriculum, The Science of Broadway. It is a project-based exploration of theatre-making. We will work on playwriting, choreography, design, and technical theater. The 21st-century skill we’re focusing on is collaboration and I wanted them to work not just on acting but the technical aspect.
What is your favorite WOW! moment?
I have a very outgoing personality. Because of my personality, I gravitate towards the quiet students and try to bring them out of their shells. It can be especially difficult for young women with the propaganda and expectations that exist as a female.
Reggy’s favorite WOW! moment involves student Jamiya during his first apprenticeship, The Future of Food. You can see the class website here.
We came into the 4th week activity where we were drawing... I drew a couple birds on her picture and that was the first time I saw her smile. Later, she walks up to me and pokes me on the shoulder. She said, “This is for you, Mr. Liger” and gave me her picture. That was when I knew I was impacting students’ lives. I actually keep the photo on my desk as a reminder.
What is your favorite way to connect with students?
On a level they understand. I have three younger siblings. I learned how to speak to young children and learned how to make them smile. It’s that moment where they realize they are able to do more than they thought they were capable of.
After every lesson, I have the students stand on their chairs and repeat back to me, “I am special. I am unique. I can do anything. I can be anything.” It starts to stick with them.
Once they go out of their comfort zones, that’s when beautiful things happen.
What advice do you have for Citizen Teachers?
The best advice I can give them is give it 100% of what you have. It is difficult to do that as a professional with outside responsibilities. But children can smell when you’re not in it. Pump your passion, your joy into that experience and make that experience one of a kind.
To change lives, you have to change yourself. Give it 100%.
Reggy would like to thank the following people for his great experiences at Citizen Schools:
Future of Food
Lion King Experience