LeBron James Opened a School That Was Considered an Experiment. It’s Showing Promise

LinkedIn

The students paraded through hugs and high-fives from staff, who danced as Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” blared through the hallways. They were showered with compliments as they walked through a buffet of breakfast foods.

The scene might be expected on a special occasion at any other public school. At LeBron James’s I Promise School, it was just Monday.

Every day, they are celebrated for walking through the door. This time last year, the students at the school — Mr. James’s biggest foray into educational philanthropy — were identified as the worst performers in the Akron public schools and branded with behavioral problems. Some as young as 8 were considered at risk of not graduating.

The academic results are early, and at 240, the sample size of students is small, but the inaugural classes of third and fourth graders at I Promise posted extraordinary results in their first set of district assessments. Ninety percent met or exceeded individual growth goals in reading and math, outpacing their peers across the district.

“These kids are doing an unbelievable job, better than we all expected,” Mr. James said in a telephone interview hours before a game in Los Angeles for the Lakers. “When we first started, people knew I was opening a school for kids. Now people are going to really understand the lack of education they had before they came to our school. People are going to finally understand what goes on behind our doors.”

For the complete article, continue on to New York Times.

Common Name, Uncommon Path

LinkedIn
Common seated at the panel at the Black Caucus

By Jovane Marie

With a career spanning almost three decades, Common’s journey in the spotlight has been anything but.

Along the way, he’s gained an ever-expanding list of titles and credits that run the gamut: rapper, artist, father, actor, activist, model, author, designer, philanthropist, Microsoft ambassador, and Academy Award winner, to name a few.

But if you’re thinking that’s enough to satisfy this modern-day Renaissance Man, you’re wrong. “I revel in the fact that in being all of these things, I don’t have to choose,” said the multi-hyphenate talent. “I want to do and be more…what I’ve accomplished so far is great, but there is always more to achieve.”

Voice of the Future
Common might’ve had his start in the music industry, but he’s no stranger to the world of STEM. In fact, he’s had a long-standing relationship with tech behemoth Microsoft dating all the way back to 2008, when the two partnered to launch Softwear (a play on “software”), a retro clothing line of T-shirts featuring MS-DOS (an operating system) font. Six years later, that partnership was re-birthed as the tech giant searched for a spokesperson to helm its first Super Bowl commercial. Common sent in a tape explaining why he wanted to lend his voice, and the rest—they say—is history. Since the inaugural commercial in 2014, the artist has lent his voice to a multitude of commercials, shorts, and presentations touting the importance of advancing technology and the infinite possibilities created by Microsoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

“Technology is possibility, adaptability, and capability,” he muses in one spot. “It’s not about changing what came before—it’s about creating what comes next. Right now, we have more power at our fingertips than entire generations that came before us…the question is, what will we do with it?”

Actor to Activist
Common’s firm footing in the entertainment industry might sound like a full-time endeavor, but he has consciously created the time and space to enrich and advocate for the causes he believes in. “The truth is, you don’t have to be an actor, or an athlete, or an influencer to make a difference,” he said in a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Ernie Suggs. “All you have to do is have a desire the make the world a better place. Every human being can do it, and I have a desire to do my part.”

L to R-Lamar Johnson, Sabrina Carpenter, Russell Hornsby, Amandla Stenberg, Algee Smith and Common attend The Hate U Give New York Screening at Paris Theatre
L to R-Lamar Johnson, Sabrina Carpenter, Russell Hornsby, Amandla Stenberg, Algee Smith and Common attend “The Hate U Give” New York Screening at Paris Theatre.

This desire has manifested into fervent action focused on increasing and championing diversity and mentoring youth in the inner-cities of his home state, among other things.

In January, he delivered the closing keynote at the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion conference, a gathering of more than 250 Chief Human Resource Officers (CHRO) and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officers (CDO) from an array of Fortune 500 companies on a mission to provide tangible, ready-to-implement strategies to encourage and increase diversity and inclusion both internally and within their local communities.

“My interest in promoting diversity was rooted in my looking in these communities and seeing certain people not having access to the same opportunities,” said the ardent advocator. “The undeniable fact is that we need to see more women and POC [people of color] in positions of power—same for different beliefs and those in the LGBTQ+ community.” “We have to figure out ways to increase the diversity, and that starts with a conversation. For me, I love being in a position where I can be a part of the paradigm shift and contribute to that conversation.”

Common performs onstage during OZY Fest
Common performs onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park in New York City.

Speaking to C-suite leaders about diversity isn’t the only way Common is lending his voice to the diversity conversation. In 2018, after African-American business partners Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were racially profiled in a Starbucks—causing national outrage—the chain subsequently closed 8,000 stores for a day to conduct anti-bias training. The voice they heard in those videos, stressing the importance of anti-discrimination and inclusivity? Take a guess. The art of the give-back has further manifested into the creation of the Common Ground Foundation, an organization dedicated to reach and impact inner-city youth in Chicago through mentorship and college-preparation programs. For more than a decade, the foundation has intimately focused on nutrition, healthy living, financial living, character development, and creative expression—even holding youth leadership conferences and summer camps. With more than $230,000 in scholarships awarded, a 100 percent graduation rate among participants, a 99 percent college attendance rate, and more than 2,500 collective hours of community service provided to the community, the organization has earned the distinction of an impactful labor of love.

Common with classroom full of school children.
Common visits NYC elementary school for Back-To-School fundraising with Burlington Stores and AdoptAClassroom. JAMIE MCCARTHY/GETTY IMAGES

“I started the Common Ground Foundation because I wanted to help,” said the philanthropist. “I think making a difference in the lives of others is life’s greatest purpose, and I always believed that of we started with the youth, we’d be planting the seeds for our future to blossom.”

A Tale of Common Sense
Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn to an educator mother and youth counselor father, was raised in the Calumet Heights neighborhood of Chicago, where his foray into the world of music developed and thrived. Talented and precocious, he was writing lyrics by age 12, and at 15, formed a rap trio—C.D.R.—with two high school friends. Far from just an after-school hobby, the group served as an industry incubator, not only building his proficiency in writing, producing and performing, but also aiding in his personal branding as an artist.

“C.D.R. represented so much in my life, and it was the birthplace of a lot of artistic firsts,” remembered Common. “That acronym was a revolving door of different meanings—it mainly stood for Corey, Deon, Rashid [our names], but on other days, it was Compact Disc Recorder, or Recording Def Rhymes. We were learning how to record, making demos, writing songs, performing—just trying to figure ourselves out and do our thing.” Influenced by hip-hop’s titans of the time, including LL Cool J, Run DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, NWA, and Rakim, C.D.R. went on to gain a footing in the industry, having their songs played on the University of Chicago’s local radio station and opening concerts for Big Daddy Kane, Eazy-E, and Too Short.

Upon graduation, Common enrolled at Florida A&M University under a scholarship, where he majored in business administration. His artistic streak remained uninterrupted, however, and in 1991, after being featured in The Source magazine’s Unsigned Hype column, he left A&M to sign with Relativity Records. It was under this label that he released his first album, “Can I Borrow a Dollar?”, using the moniker Common Sense. The album was an underground success, and laid the groundwork (as well as a growing fanbase) for his subsequent albums and collaborations. To date, Common has won more than 20 awards from various distinguished award bodies for his lyrics, albums and performances, including a 2015 Academy Award for his and singer John Legend’s original song “Glory” (from the Selma soundtrack), three Grammys, four BET Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Emmy. He has also garnered over 40 nominations in the music industry.

More than Music
Had Common been content to produce records, pull awards, and perform his hits for dedicated fans around the world, that might’ve been the end of the story. But, true to his character, he always had his sights set for more—much more. He began making his mark in the film and television industry in the early 2000s, often making cameos as himself and later evolving into more complex roles in well-known films, such as American Gangster (starring Denzel Washington), Wanted, Just Wright, Suicide Squad, Selma (as activist James Bevel), and installments of the John Wick franchise, to name a few. His constantly growing acting portfolio, which currently includes more than 40 films, supports a long-term goal to eventually become one of the great actors of our time.

Common standing posing with his childrens book
Common with his children’s book, “I Like You but I Love Me”.

“I’m still working to get to where I want to be, and I’m always working to get to the next level,” he said. “The majority of roles I want, they’re looking at other actors for. But I’m always going to fight to prove myself.” As he works tirelessly to widen his range and nab multifaceted roles, Common is also focused on another goal: helping amplify the creative voices of others through his nearly five-year-old production company, Freedom Road Productions. To date, he has executive produced Showtime’s popular drama The Chi (created by screenwriter Lena Waithe, the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series), and last year, signed a deal to develop and produce new television series with Lionsgate TV.

On the Horizon
Common’s career in the spotlight has diverged into many paths during its three-decade journey, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Add to that his impactful work in mentorship, advocacy, and diversity, and a bevy of new projects within all of these fields, and it’s safe to say that he may never stop. Next up is his second book, Let Love Have the Last Word, a personal anthology exploring the core tenets of love to help others give and receive love to live better lives and build stronger communities. Following on the heels of his New York Times best-selling memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, the book is sure to be a page-turner.

On the film front, the actor will feature or star in three upcoming films: The Informer, The Kitchen, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Several TV series in collaboration with Lionsgate are also in the works. Simply put, Common wants to expand his experience, provide opportunities for others, and inspire.

“I want to live my passions, help others do the same, and make the world a better place, as much as I can,” he said. “This—all of this—inspires me to work harder and do more.”

How Concierge Parenting Services Can Help Prepare Kids for College

LinkedIn
student with exam paper and pencil taking a test

College admissions issues has been stealing the headlines. From the college admission scandal, where wealthy people allegedly paid to help their kids get accepted to high ranking colleges, to the talk of adding diversity scores to help boost some SAT/ACT tests, the news is filled with the challenges that those wanting to go to a good college may face.

Some parents are opting to take an approach that is more tailored to helping the child become prepared to excel and get into the college of their choice. This new approach, called concierge parenting services, aims to provide a customized plan to take the child to the next level, by identifying their fullest potential and capitalizing on it.

“Too often, the approaches taken in schools are failing students. Every child learns differently, so a cookie cutter approach just doesn’t work,” explains Reena B. Patel, a parenting expert, licensed educational psychologist, and author, who offers virtual workshops. “Through concierge parenting services, parents can learn exactly what their child needs to focus on in order to excel. The plan has been tailored to their unique child.”

Recently, Gallup suggested that education in the country takes the opposite approach of standardized tests, which students are being inundated with around the nation. What they suggest is that students need a test that is for them and about them, so that they become better at understanding and developing their own unique talents, which will help them succeed in school and life. This is the goal of concierge parenting, too.

Concierge parenting is service offered by Patel and other professionals in the field, in which they conduct extensive assessment on the child. Here are some of the ways that concierge parenting services can help prepare kids for college:

  • The assessments that are conducted show a child’s strengths, so that they can capitalize on them in order to reach their goals.
  • Parents receive a customized learning profile of their child, which will give insight as to how they best learn and optimize their strengths while developing areas of need. Parents can use that information to ensure that their educational needs are being addressed and how to take their child to the next level of growth.
  • Their learning profile includes such things as the child’s emotional resilience. This is important information, because it sheds light on how well the child will adapt to stressful situations or challenges. They can use the information to help the child learn more coping skills.
  • Parents receive the tools that they need in order to help their child navigate studying, taking tests, and applying for colleges. Rather than guessing how to best go about these things, the information has been tailored to the needs and styles of the individual.
  • Similar to a concierge in a hotel, parents get a tailored approach that is focused on meeting their needs and ensuring their child’s success. By taking advantage of a service like this, parents can learn their child’s strengths then nurture them and focus on excelling those strengths to be the best version of themselves.

“If you want to feel confident about your child’s education and future college acceptance, you can’t go wrong with taking a concierge parenting approach,” added Patel. “The purpose of concierge parenting is to help remove the stress, hurdles, and disappointment that may come later on. It helps your child to set out on their path with a detailed map to help them successfully get there.”

Patel offers several concierge parenting services packages, including being able to tailor a program to meet individual needs and goals. Two of her popular packages are titled Optimal Learning and New Parent. The Optimal Learning package offers a comprehensive assessment, customized report with specific tools to apply, follow up emails to ask questions, comprehensive evaluations to include, but not limited to, intelligence testing, academic testing, social and emotional readiness, and executive functioning testing. The New Parent package focuses on the idea that every baby and child is unique and has a different temperament. It’s ideal for new parents or a parent of a teen. Finding time to address challenges, such as behaviors, or how best to get your baby to sleep is hard. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a service customized just for your family and child? One that is effective and developed by a professional expert.

Each concierge parenting package includes initial consultation to identify concerns and goals, three session observation, modeling, and implementation of expert techniques, and one follow up virtual call after strategies are implemented.

In addition to offering concierge parenting services, Patel is the founder of AutiZm& More. As a licensed educational psychologist and guidance counselor, she helps children and their families with the use of positive behavior support strategies across home, school, and community settings. She does workshops around California, and virtual workshops globally where she provides this information to health professionals, families, and educators. She is also the author of a book that helps children with anxiety coping strategies called “Winnie & Her Worries,” and author of a book about autism awareness and acceptance, called “My Friend Max: A Story about a Friend with Autism.” Both of her books are available on Amazon. To learn more about her services, visit the website at reenabpatel.com.

About Reena B. Patel
Based in the San Diego area, Reena B. Patel (LEP, BCBA) is a renowned parenting expert, guidance counselor, licensed educational psychologist, and board-certified behavior analyst. For more than 20 years, Patel has had the privilege of working with families and children, supporting all aspects of education and positive wellness. She works extensively with developing children as well as children with exceptional needs, supporting their academic, behavioral and social development. She was recently nominated for San Diego Magazine’s “Woman of the Year.” To learn more about her books and services, visit the website at reenabpatel.com, and to get more parenting tips, follow her on Instagram @reenabpatel.

Gallup. It’s time to try the opposite of standardized testing. gallup.com/education/237284

Out to Innovate™ 2019 Summit for LGBTQ People in STEM

LinkedIn

NOGLSTP presented its 5th biannual Out to Innovate™ Summit for LGBTIQ People in STEM on March 16-17 at the location of its first summit, the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, CA. 

These summits are meant to support and encourage the open participation of the LGBTIQ community in STEM activities. With this year’s theme, “Igniting STEM with PRIDE,” over 200 attendees participated in 20 workshops and 4 plenaries, increasing skill sets, broadening their knowledge, and making new friends.

Early arriving attendees attended a tour of the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and in the evening NOGLSTP hosted a reception for workshop organizers, panelists, and exhibitors at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries where the NOGLSTP history and files reside and were on partial display.

The meeting opened with proclamations and greeting from the region, followed by Kei Koizumi, Visiting Scholar in science policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), gave an inspiring motivational speech, reminding everyone to pursue their dreams in STEM as LGBTQ people

Over the following day and a half, attendees participated in 4 breakout sessions containing 20 workshops covered a wide range of topics; titles from “Proposal Writing Workshop: Understanding the Federal Money Process,” and “Careers in Government and Policy for LGBTQ STEM people,” to “Out on the Academic Job Search,” “Forming Student Groups: Experiences and Organizing”, “a LGBTQ+ Health Initiatives”, “Queer in STEM Demographic Studies”, ”LGTQ Portrayal in Arts and Media” and “Intersectionality – Bringing All of Your Identities,” provided learning and discussion opportunities over a broad spectrum of issues and ideas.

Plenaries included an “Out and Accomplished panel”, where “out” panel members provided their perspectives on serving in industry, government, and academia. Saturday evening’s Gala Recognition Awards Reception and Dinner was held at the USC Town and Gown hall with keynote speaker David Bohnett, founder of GeoCities who spoke of his journey, from being a closeted undergraduate student at USC, the early days of the World Wide Web and founding GeoCities.  2017 and 1028 Out to Innovate™ Scholarship recipients (funded by Motorola Solutions Foundation), and poster session winners were honored at the dinner as well as 2019 Recognition Awardees: presented the 2019 Recognition Award Winners: Dr Benny Chan, Professor of Chemistry at the College of New Jersey (LGBTQ Educator of the year), Dr Arianna Morales, Staff Research Scientist at General Motors Global research and Development (LGBTQ Engineer of the year), and Dr Jon Freeman, Associate professor of Psychology and Neural Science New York University (LGBTQ Scientist of the Year).  This year’s Walt Westman Award went to Dr. Lauren Esposito, Curator at California Academy of Sciences and creator of 500 Queer Scientists website.

Wendy Okolo Is The First Black Woman To Earn A Doctorate In Aerospace Engineering

LinkedIn

Dr. Wendy Okolo is a Nigerian-born National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) aerospace engineer and the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in the field.

According to her profile on the organization’s website, Okolo works as a special emphasis programs manager at Ames Research Center and is a research engineer in the Discovery and Systems Health Technology (DaSH) Area. Her role includes researching control systems applications, systems health monitoring and creating solutions for issues related to the designing of aircraft and spacecraft.

She earned her B.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2010 and 2015. Okolo completed her dissertation research with a focus on aircraft fuel-saving methods. Her research was funded by several organizations including the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), American Institute for Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA) and Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC).

Per the Philadelphia Tribune, Okolo is the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in aerospace engineering at just 26 years old. Along with accomplishing the prestigious honor, she was the winner of the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Global Competitiveness Conference award for being the most promising engineer in the United States government.

For the complete article, continue on to Blavity.

Reclaiming spaces: Camp ELSO inspires children of color to explore the outdoors, science careers

LinkedIn

I recall the high school science teacher who doubted my capacity to succeed in advanced biology, the pre-med advisers who pointed my friend Dr. Kellianne Richardson and me away from their program and discouraged us from considering a career in medicine – biased advice given under the guise of truth and tough love.

I remember only three classes with professors of color in my four years at college, only one of whom was a woman. We needed to see her, to hold faith that as women of color, we were good enough, we were smart enough to be there. We were simply enough, and we had so much to contribute to medicine, eager to learn, to improve and to struggle alongside our mostly White peers at our private liberal arts college.

These are the experiences that led Kellianne and me to see the need for more spaces set aside for future Black scientists, for multi-hued Brown future environmentalists.

The story of Camp ELSO (Experience Life Science Outdoors) started with our vision. We want Black and Brown children to access more and better experiences than we did, experiences that help them see their potential in science, that prepare them for the potentially steep learning curve that comes with declaring a science major. We want Black and Brown kids to feel comfortable in a lab room, navigating a science library, and advocating for themselves with faculty and advisers. We hope to inspire their academic pursuits by laying the foundation with curiosity and critical thinking.

For the complete article, continue on to Metro News.

6 ways college grads can find their first job faster

LinkedIn
Young student holding books and carrying a backpack, smiling to camera

Millennials and Gen Zers receive plenty of advice on how to ace a job interview. But before you can wow an interviewer, you have to actually land an interview.

Applying for jobs may feel like it’s mostly a waiting game, but there’s more to do than just submitting applications online, and taking those extra steps will get you better job search results. CNBC Make It spoke to Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopResume, who offers new grads these tips:

1. Prioritize your connections
Identify who in your already-established network currently works or previously worked in the field you are most interested in. Augustine also suggests keeping any highly-social friends in mind. “These natural connectors from your personal network can often introduce you to relevant people outside your social circle that could be valuable during your search,” says Augustine.

2. Don’t underestimate your alma mater

Alumnifire, an alumni networking platform, found that 90 percent of hiring managers would prefer to hire a fellow alumnus if possible. In order to find alums who work in your target field, attend alumni events in your area and use LinkedIn to sift through search results. If you find an alum connected to a particular company or industry you’re interested in, approach them with confidence. Briefly mentioning that you went to the same college is a great way to spark a conversation.

3. Join organizations
In college, social groups and clubs are often built into campus life, but to continue to make new friends and expand your network after graduation, Augustine suggests using websites such as Directory of Associations, VolunteerMatch and Meetup to find people with common interests. “The bigger your network, the easier it will become to find and connect with others who can help you achieve your job-search goals,” she says.

4. Invest in your professional development
Begin by taking advantage of informational interviews. These differ from traditional job interviews in that the goal is to gain insight into your desired field or a specific company, allowing you to take steps to become a more marketable candidate. You may also want to work on developing a new skill to better your chances of being hired for a position. Search for industry conferences or start a free or low-cost online course through platforms such as Courseera, edX, Skillshare or Lynda.

5. Consider taking side gigs
Whether it’s helping out at a non-profit or picking up some extra freelance work, there are plenty of experiences that might not be full-time but could be great resume-boosters. In addition, they can lead to new connections that can open doors to job opportunities. When looking for freelance listings, check out websites like UpWork, Freelancer, Guru and College Recruiter.

6. Take another look at your resume
“Think of your resume as a marketing document whose content has been carefully curated based on your job goals,” says Augustine, “rather than a record of your work history and education.” This will help get through the applicant tracking systems that some employers use. These systems sort through resumes and highlight top candidates by searching for keywords related to the position being applied for.

Continue on to CNBC News to read the complete article.

Mentorship Leads to Better STEM Outcomes for Disadvantaged Students

LinkedIn
The FIRST Gala 2018

Every student is different. Each comes into the classroom with different life experiences, learning abilities and personalities. In an evolving society where employers are rapidly demanding workers with STEM skills and schools are struggling to keep up, a tailored approach to STEM education – one that includes mentorship and accessibility – is required to ensure every student finds success.

Mentorship Makes a Positive Impact

For underserved, underrepresented, and vulnerable students, mentorship can make the difference in delivering positive STEM education outcomes. Many school-aged young adults face challenging circumstances, such as a lack of positive role models, insufficient access to education or other financial or societal barriers, but those who have a mentor are 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college than those who do not, according to a study by Civic Enterprises. As more employers seek STEM-qualified workers, there are plenty of students who are poised to meet this need – with equitable support.

“Students who question if there’s a place for them in engineering or technology gain self-confidence working with team mentors – especially if they share similar interests or backgrounds,” said Don Bossi, president of FIRST®, a global nonprofit that fosters kids’ interest in STEM fields through robotics competitions. “Our organization relies heavily on professionals and educators who dedicate their time to mentorship, and students learn so much from them.”

Many students – especially young women and people of color – need encouragement and guidance to understand the opportunities that exist for them in STEM. Melissa Smith, a senior user experience researcher at Google and YouTube – and a FIRST alum – only joined her middle school robotics club because she mistook it for an aerobics club. However, Mr. Turner, her science teacher, encouraged her inquisitive nature, and Ms. Foy, her robotics coach, created a welcoming environment by taking the time to teach her how to use everything in the robotics lab, one-on-one. “I remember, very early on in robotics, I was this awkward kid,” said Smith. “Ms. Foy encouraged us to ask questions if we didn’t know something.” Smith says this judgement-free setting is extremely important for young students’ success, and she now calls joining the robotics club the luckiest mistake she’s ever made. Her interest in science blossomed from field trips to the Everglades and space camp, and Smith now works on human and computer interaction for one of the world’s biggest technology companies.

Connecting Disadvantaged Students with Mentors

Whether it’s family economic hardship, gender or racial barriers or a dearth of basic educational resources in communities, disadvantaged young people are systemically hampered by insufficient access to STEM education and relevant mentors. Organizations like FIRST provide students and classrooms with STEM resources, including grants and scholarships, and actively connect students with corporate partners to provide hands-on learning experiences and guidance from professionals. Data shows the approach works: Across all demographic groups (gender, race, economic status and geography), FIRST students show significant gains in STEM knowledge, STEM interest, STEM career interest, STEM identity and STEM activity compared to their peers who don’t participate.

“Companies, education systems and nonprofits must invest in their communities to deliver positive STEM education outcomes,” said Bossi. “There is tremendous untapped potential in underserved communities, and all stakeholders can play a role in connecting students with the resources they need to be successful. We have worked with corporate partners to provide resources and develop strategies that address inequalities in access to STEM education. We hope these resources enable more educators and community leaders to inspire students of all backgrounds to reach their full potential.” For example, FIRST and its equity, diversity and inclusion sponsors have awarded $1.2 million in grants to-date to more than 38 communities across the U.S. and Canada so they can develop strategies to bring STEM engagement opportunities to disadvantaged young people. FIRST also partnered with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) to develop free online training for mentors who commit to create diverse, inclusive and equitable teams.

Well into her professional career, Smith now pays it forward by mentoring and volunteering as much as she can, including attending information sessions where middle and high school students can interact with Google engineers, and volunteering as a head referee for FIRST competitions. She has seen firsthand how students gain confidence and come out of their shells when they get excited about learning, and how interacting with industry professionals gives students the opportunities to gain skills beyond robotics. Smith says the most rewarding part of mentorship comes when students learn to deal with adversity and learn from failure during the competition process. “The most exciting part for me is seeing how the kids learn to handle when something bad happens. The students are clearly upset, but they come up to you and thank you for helping them. It’s one of the mentoring moments I truly treasure in my current role, when the students are upset but remain able to have a mature conversation and understand that losing is sometimes part of the experience.”

Bossi echoes this sentiment and adds that mentorship doesn’t have to end when a student graduates. “Good mentorship doesn’t have an expiration date, and it’s gratifying to both the mentor and mentee to watch the latter grow and come into their own. Especially for disadvantaged populations, who may continue to face barriers as they advance in their careers, mentorship can create very valuable lifelong relationships.”

Meeting the Needs of All Students

Educators alone cannot be expected to meet the needs of a diverse student body: The responsibility must be put on all STEM community stakeholders, including the public and private sectors. According to Bossi, school administrators, parents, business leaders and nonprofits have a responsibility to ensure all students have equitable opportunities and pathways to STEM careers. “To truly meet the challenges of education today, we must ensure all students have role models who make them feel welcome, understand they have a voice and have the ability to get their fair shake at success.”

Morgan State University Awarded $1.6 Million Base 11 Grant to Launch Student Rocketry Program

LinkedIn
MSU-grant

The nonprofit Base 11 today announced that Morgan State University is the winner of a three-year, $1.6 million Aerospace Workforce and Leadership Development Grant, which will fund a state-of-the-art rocketry lab and launch a student rocketry team.

Former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin was on hand to formally present the check to and inspire university students who were in attendance, to pursue aerospace as the “Next Frontier.”

The commercial space industry is expected to become a $2.7 trillion economic sector in the next 30 years, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Yet the industry faces challenges in recruiting a diverse workforce. According to the National Science Foundation, African Americans make up just 5 percent of the science and engineering workforce.

“We want to ensure that the next generation of space innovators is just as diverse as America,” said Melvin, a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions. “I am excited to see this generation of students getting critical hands-on experience in rocket technology, and I encourage Morgan State’s students to seize this incredible opportunity to reach for the stars.”

The grant, which aims to improve diversity in the aerospace talent pipeline, was announced in June 2018, and drew proposals from eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Leland Melvin was joined by experts from Dassault Systèmes, Blue Origin, SpaceX, Sigma Pi Phi fraternity, and Base 11 in reviewing the applications.

“The proposals for the HBCU Aerospace Workforce and Leadership Development Grant were quite impressive,” said Base 11 Chairman and CEO Landon Taylor. “Morgan State is especially well positioned to leverage their existing resources, faculty expertise, and industry partners to launch a successful and sustainable rocketry program that brings hands-on, experiential learning to students.”

The grant will fund the build-out of a liquid-fuel rocketry lab at Morgan State, as well as the recruitment and hiring of an aerospace faculty leader to create a world-class liquid fuel rocketry program. Morgan State aims to bring together these elements to successfully build and launch a liquid fuel rocket that reaches 150,000 feet by 2022.

“We are honored that Morgan State University was selected for this competitive grant, and confident that it will further advance our efforts to increase diversity in the STEM talent pipeline, while also turning out workforce-ready talent in high-demand industries like aerospace,” said David Wilson, president of Morgan State University. “At Morgan we encourage our students to be bold and to aim for the stars, and with the launch of this program, we can provide them with the resources to take on that challenge literally.”

Morgan State will house the fledgling rocket program in its Center for Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies (CBEIS) building, the home of The School of Architecture and Planning and some of the University’s engineering programs. CBEIS is a gold certified LEED green building with solar water heating panels and a bioretention pond. Designed for the needs of the modern university student, CBEIS is also the home to the only earthquake simulator on the east coast and a supersonic wind tunnel. Students studying in this contemporary facility have access to printing labs that contain 2D and 3D printers and a fabrication lab where students can use technologically advanced cutting tools.

“With this very generous grant, we will bring together a cross-disciplinary team of faculty and external collaborators to develop and prepare our students for future opportunities in the commercial aerospace industry. This is an area loaded with opportunities for innovation and creativity, and in need of a more diverse workforce” said Dr. Willie E. May, vice president of research and economic development at Morgan State University.

Continue on to Morgan State University to read the complete article.

Computer Science Demand Is Soaring Due To Tech Bubble 2.0

LinkedIn

For the past several years, I’ve been warning that the tech startup boom (and the surge of interest in “coding”) is actually a dangerous bubble that is driven by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s ultra-loose monetary policies since the Great Recession. A recent New York Times piece called “The Hard Part of Computer Science? Getting Into Class” describes how young people are clamoring to study computer science:

Lured by the prospect of high-salary, high-status jobs, college students are rushing in record numbers to study computer science.

Now, if only they could get a seat in class.

On campuses across the country, from major state universities to small private colleges, the surge in student demand for computer science courses is far outstripping the supply of professors, as the tech industry snaps up talent. At some schools, the shortage is creating an undergraduate divide of computing haves and have-nots — potentially narrowing a path for some minority and female students to an industry that has struggled with diversity.

The number of undergraduates majoring in the subject more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, to over 106,000, while tenure-track faculty ranks rose about 17 percent, according to the Computing Research Association, a nonprofit that gathers data from about 200 universities.

Economics and the promise of upward mobility are driving the student stampede. While previous generations of entrepreneurial undergraduates might have aspired to become lawyers or doctors, many students now are leery of investing the time, and incurring six-figure debts, to join those professions.

The tech frenzy can be seen in the chart of the monthly count of global VC deals that raised $100 million or more since 2007. According to this chart, a new “unicorn” startup was born every four days in 2018.

To read the complete article, continue on to Forbes.

Conference Strengthens Pacific Island Pipeline Into STEM Careers

LinkedIn

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo hosted a conference in January for educators from Hawaiʻi and 10 Pacific Island nations who are working towards encouraging students from underrepresented populations to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

At the conference, the Islands of Opportunity Alliance (IOA), led by the UH Hilo chancellor’s office, kicked off their 2019 STEM mentorship programs, which are funded by $600,000 of a continuing $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Topics at the conference included inter-campus programs, curriculum enhancements, student learning communities, peer tutoring, enrichment through research experiences, the promotion of STEM graduate degrees and employment, institutional support and sustainability plans.

UH Hilo serves as the administrative hub for the IOA, including 10 other partner institutions in American Sāmoa, Guam, Hawaiʻi, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.

“We share the common goal of increasing underrepresented professionals in STEM fields and I feel inspired by each member of our alliance,” said Marcia Sakai, interim chancellor at UH Hilo and principal investigator of the program.

The main goal of the alliance is to increase the number of underrepresented minority students, with a focus on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students who graduate with baccalaureate degrees in STEM disciplines, and go on to pursue graduate degrees or enter a STEM career in their local communities.

“The benefit is not just the STEM degree, but what the students are going to do with their STEM degree,” said Joseph Genz, UH Hilo associate professor and IOA project director. “In the vast majority of cases, that means going back home to their island communities and using their degrees to build up the capacities of their communities, fostering a system of self-empowerment.”

Continue onto Big Island Now to read the complete article.