The Mentor Allentown Coalition was chosen as one of three Grand Prize winners in the annual US2020 City Competition held at the White House Science Fair in Washington, D.C., to lead a national movement to revolutionize the methodology of mentoring students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Allentown, along with the two other Grand Prize cities of Research Triangle Park, N.C., and Chicago, Ill., will share a variety of funding and volunteer resources that total approximately $1 million.
Mayor Ed Pawlowski and representatives from the Mentor Allentown Coalition announced project plans during a news conference at PPL Corporation headquarters.
The Mentor Allentown Coalition is a group comprised of over 30 different organizations, brought together by the Da Vinci Center to encourage the youth of our communities to pursue careers in the STEM fields. “The city of Allentown is undergoing a huge transformation that will have far-reaching effects, including thousands of new jobs and a vitality that our city has not seen for decades,” said Mayor Pawlowski. “Mentor Allentown will be equally transformational in the lives of Allentown’s young people.”
Through the Mentor Allentown project, local systems and structures will be created that will provide high-impact mentoring to close to 2,000 low-income students, students of minority backgrounds, and female students. The Mentor Allentown Coalition hopes to triple the number of students currently being mentored in STEM subjects. The goal is to encourage young people to pursue STEM careers that will provide livable, family-sustainable wages, support existing Lehigh Valley companies, and attract new companies and jobs to the area.
The award was distributed by US2020, an affiliate of the national, non-profit organization Citizen Schools. Their goal is to encourage today’s students to explore STEM-related careers by providing mentoring to at least a million low-income, minority background, and female students by 2020. American STEM companies indicate that they are struggling already with an aging workforce and a shortage of qualified workers, and the U.S. Department of Commerce projects that there will be 1.2 million new STEM jobs by the year 2018.
Mentor Allentown will train STEM professionals to provide at least ten hours of direct and effective contact with students. The extended relationships between mentors and students along with Mentor Allentown’s program evaluations and training for mentors will ensure its effectiveness and help create a national model for successful STEM mentorship in cities. The Mentor Allentown Coalition is looking for STEM professionals to serve as program mentors. Interested professionals should visit www.davincisciencecenter.org/mentor to request additional information.
“The Mentor Allentown initiative – through the support of US2020 and its community partners – is about getting young people excited about STEM subjects, building student interest and achievement in these subjects,” said Lin Erickson, Da Vinci Science Center Executive Director and CEO. “Mentoring is a powerful way to make that happen. By developing high-impact mentoring opportunities, STEM employees will have a profound and prolonged relationship with students that can make meaningful differences in their lives.”
The Da Vinci Center’s Senior Director of Science and Strategic Initiatives, David Smith, Ph.D., will be convening the coalition for the Mentor Allentown project. A project manager has not yet been hired, and the center is currently looking for three AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers to help develop the program for July 2014-July 2015. The plan is for these professionals to be responsible for building the program’s capacity to be sustained on a long-term basis.
Below is a complete list-listed alphabetically-of participating mentor Allentown partners:
Air Products; Allentown Promise Neighborhood; Allentown School District; Allentown School District Foundation; Allentown YMCA and YWCA; The Baum School of Art; Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley; Boys and Girls Club of Allentown; Capital Blue Cross; Casa Guadalupe; Cedar Crest College; City of Allentown; Communities in Schools of the Lehigh Valley; Computer Aid; Da Vinci Science Center; Explorer Scouts, Minsi Trails Council; Girl Scouts of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA); Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC); Lehigh Career and Technical Institute (LCTI); Lehigh University; Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC); Lehigh Valley Health Network; Lehigh Valley Zoo; Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board; Muhlenberg College; Olympus America; PPL Corporation; St. Luke’s University Health Network; Thermo Fisher Scientific; United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley; and Wildlands Conservancy.