Future City Wins 2017 US2020 STEM Mentoring Award for "Most Innovative Hands-On Project"


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Release Date: 

October 10th, 2017

US2020 Honors Leaders of the STEM Mentoring Movement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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. US2020 and co-founding sponsors Chevron and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) are recognizing the winners for their achievements and innovations in STEM, and in particular their focus on serving underrepresented youth. US2020 award winners are being recognized at the STEM Mentoring Symposium today 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.

The third annual US2020 STEM Mentoring Awards included five award categories. Applications were evaluated by a cross-sector panel of distinguished judges. This year’s winners are:

● Excellence in Impact Measurement - Spark and Techbridge Girls
● Most Innovative Hands-On Project - DC Design and DiscoverE
● Excellence in Public-Private Partnerships - Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, Steppingstone Scholars, Inc., and WakeEd Partnership
● Excellence in Volunteer Experience - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Research Triangle Park and the University City Science Center’s FirstHand
● Excellence in Volunteer Mobilization - Amgen, IBM, U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyPublic Service Company of Oklahoma, Wolters Kluwer, and Women Who Code

In 2013, TCS built the dynamic online platform US2020 utilizes for the mentorship program’s match- making process and data collection. Today, the enthusiasm for the partnership has not waned. “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.”

Excellence in Volunteer Mobilization, a new category this year, was designed to identify top volunteer- providing organizations. IBM in Baton Rouge, LA, Amgen in Ventura County, CA, Public Service Company of Oklahoma in Tulsa, OK, Wolters Kluwer and Women Who Code in Wichita, KS, and the U.S. EPA in Research Triangle Park, NC, are being recognized for providing exceptional support to US2020 City Coalitions in these regions through the engagement of their workforce.

Excellence in Volunteer Experience recognizes programs that provide high-quality and well-supported engagements for their volunteers. Winners are selected based on the survey results submitted by their volunteers. University City Science Center’s FirstHand program excels at creating quality volunteer experiences by helping individual mentors design their engagement based on their own volunteer experiences by helping individual mentors design their engagement based on their unique skills and goals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -- Research Triangle Park kicks off each school year with an open house to demonstrate their favorite hands-on activities that volunteers can utilize in the classroom. They also offer up to ten "lunch and learns" throughout the year, allowing for best practices to be shared amongst colleagues.

Excellence in Public-Private Partnership showcases effective and innovative cross-sector collaborations. These groups are utilizing the combined resources of corporations, nonprofits, civic leaders, school districts, etc. to rapidly scale STEM efforts in their communities. The Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI is working with over 30 agencies on the Informatics Diversity Enhanced Workforce (iDEW) program. iDEW unites high schools with university, corporate, and community partners to deliver a blended education and career pathway to contribute to 21st century job needs. In North Carolina, WakeEd Partnership along with 36 other groups, is facilitating two programs that bring STEM mentors into the Wake County Public School System. World Café matches businesses with schools, and SummerSTEM brings 100 educators from 50 Wake County public schools to participate in an immersion experience that combines project-based learning with real world application. This year’s third winner, Steppingstone Scholars, Inc. heads the STEAM Education Collaborative, an innovative approach that seeks to implement STEAM programming that spans 4th grade-college and is focused on reducing achievement gaps in STEAM-related fields across its’ programs.

Most Innovative Hands-On Project celebrates experiential and project based learning and recognizes programs that are implementing unique and promising practices. DC Design leads "Design the Future", a week long, fully immersive summer project for rising 10th, 11th and 12th graders in which students work to design solutions to real problems faced by individuals with physical disabilities. At the end of the week, students walk away from the course with an understanding of how they can tangibly improve the world. Similarly, DiscoverE asks its students, "How can we make the world a better place?" The group is running "Future City", a transformative project-based learning program where teams of middle school students, an educator, and a STEM mentor imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future.

Excellence in Impact Measurement, a new award category in 2017, seeks to identify which indicators of student impact are most important to measure. With the goal to identify models that can be most effective at reaching the long-term goal of a stronger, more diverse workforce. Based in Chicago, Spark provides middle schoolers with experiences that foster socio-emotional learning, social capital, and school performance. Focusing on those three areas of growth, Spark uses student, mentor, and teacher pre-, mid-, and post-assessments to understand the extent to which students grow in a holistic sense. Techbridge Girls’ (TBG) is a national initiative educating and empowering girls from low- income communities to realize their dreams through STEM. TBG operates a uniquely comprehensive and rigorous after-school program model that combines hands-on STEM activities with career exploration and engagement with mentors, teacher training, and family engagement over multiple years.

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 2017 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.”

US2020 also recognizes IBM and UW Madison WISCIENCE as finalists for Excellence in Volunteer Experience.

These winning organizations are creating impactful opportunity for youth, in particular underrepresented youth, and advancing 21st century STEM careers in America. US2020, Chevron and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), join in celebrating these exceptional civic efforts to ignite moments of discovery for the next generation of leaders in STEM.