Wichita has been named a finalist for the coveted US2020 City Competition, one of 13 cities chosen out of 52 applicants nationwide to bolster STEM mentorship for underrepresented students. The accomplishment recognizes that Wichita may be the best city in the nation to demonstrate the impact of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) mentoring, said local leaders in government, education, engineering and industry.
The US2020 City Competition capitalizes on the role of cities as centers for innovation, supporting outstanding efforts to build STEM mentoring capacity at the local level. The competition was announced by former President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative in June. The other 12 finalists are Allentown, Pa.; Baton Rouge, La.; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Houston; Indianapolis, Ind.; New York; Philadelphia; Research Triangle, N.C.; San Francisco; and Tulsa, Okla.
Wichita has an extraordinary number of STEM professionals, with the third-highest concentration of engineers in the nation, according to Forbes magazine.
“The US2020 recognition is a great opportunity for the Wichita community to raise awareness about the increasingly important issue of improving STEM mentoring and education,” Brewer said. “The city of Wichita is eager to support the US2020 team in its efforts to go from finalist to a national winner. I’m really excited about future possibilities. Growing more STEM mentors, particularly among underrepresented groups, supports our youth, our schools and our economic development efforts to create and retain jobs as well as talented young professionals.”
Together, the applicants represent:
• More than 500 organizations, including more than 200 nonprofits, 62 school districts and almost 100 businesses;
• Nine of the 10 largest cities in the country;
• 29 states
“Through the City Competition, cities are tapping into their most powerful resources – their citizens,” said Eric Schwarz, executive chairman of US2020 and co-founder and CEO of Citizen Schools. “With representation from such diverse coalitions, we know that we’ve begun to stimulate a movement and are well on our way to making 1 million high quality STEM mentoring matches by the year 2020."
The Wichita coalition comprises the City of Wichita Mayor’s Office, the Wichita School District (USD 259), the Wichita Catholic Diocese, area nonprofits involved in mentoring youth, and local industries including NetApp and Spirit AeroSystems. Wichita State University is leading the initiative.
“Spirit AeroSystems is proud to partner with the Wichita US2020 project team,” said Brian Black, senior manager corporate public affairs and global diversity. “Spirit is committed to increasing STEM mentoring in our community. We are pleased that the US2020 grants reviewers have selected Wichita as a finalist in their competition to increase STEM mentoring across the nation.”
WSU President John Bardo said STEM mentoring is an important community goal.
“Because of the importance of STEM education for the future of this state and the nation, WSU is working to be a leader in helping students prepare to study in these critical fields,” Bardo said. “I am proud of the quality of the programs across our science, engineering and math departments. It is critical that we continue to encourage students to take advantage of studying with the world-class faculty that Wichita State University has in these fields.”
The first-round finalists will move on to the second round of the selection process, joining peers and STEM experts in Boston for "Ideas Camp," a two-day strategy session Dec. 4-5 to help teams move their plans from concept to implementation. They will collaborate with experts and peers to refine their strategies.
The second-round applications will be due in January, and the awarded cities will be identified in February. The winning cities will share nearly $1 million in resources from US2020, based on their plans to significantly increase STEM mentoring for girls, low-income youth, and students of color, including:
• A cohort of on-the-ground service corps members to help implement their plans
• Access to a state-of-the-art online volunteer matching platform
• Funds to hire a local project manager
• Pro bono consulting services from a top consulting firm to help operationalize their plans
• Participation in communities of practice with national leaders in STEM
• National recognition as leaders in the STEM mentoring movement
US2020 enlisted national leaders in the fields of STEM education, workforce development, and civic innovation to serve as judges for the US2020 City Competition. These individuals included:
• Blair Christie, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Cisco
• Jan Cuny, program officer, National Science Foundation
• Mark Greenlaw, vice president of sustainability and educational affairs, Cognizant
• Congressman Mike Honda, 17th Congressional District, California
• Surya Kant, president, Tata Consultancy Services North America, UK, and Europe
• Michael Lach, director of STEM policy and strategic initiatives, University of Chicago Urban Education Institute
• Sanjay Mehrotra, co-founder, president and chief executive officer, SanDisk
• Andre Sayles, principal deputy director, Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, US Dept. of Energy
• David Shapiro, president and CEO, MENTOR: National Mentoring Partnership