Boston — United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley today honored some of Greater Boston’s leading companies for their commitment to helping more young people in Boston access STEM education and career opportunities, inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders and ensuring a diverse workforce in the future. United Way today presented Carbonite, Janey Construction, Nitsch Engineering and Thermo Fisher Scientific with its annual Corporate STEM Leader of the Year Award in recognition of the companies’ community engagement with youth around STEM opportunities.
Close to 300 business leaders representing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) industries came together for United Way’s Annual STEM Leadership Breakfast, raising over $250,000 this morning to help increase STEM interest and educational opportunities among youth.
“STEM careers are growing in demand every day, and there are so many youth in our footprint who can rise to meet that need,” said Michael K. Durkin, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Unfortunately, many middle schoolers in Boston don’t have easy access to STEM learning opportunities or professionals, and that doesn’t just leave them behind educationally, it can rob them of a fulfilling career.”
Through its BoSTEM initiative, United Way is looking to change that. BoSTEM is a public-private partnership that aims to provide all Boston public middle school students with a STEM learning experience by 2022. The partnership is led by the City of Boston, Boston Public Schools, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, and Boston After School & Beyond, and it is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
“Many leaders in our industry understand the challenges of building a new startup or a new program,” said Jeff Bray, Vice President at Rapid 7 and a member of United Way’s Board and STEM Advisory Committee. “But today we can say we’ve achieved enough progress to declare BoSTEM is successful. Last year alone, BoSTEM served over 1,400 students and worked with 25 corporate partners.”
Over 89% of the students who participated in the program’s field trips reported an increased interest in STEM subjects. BoSTEM is aimed at engaging middle school students in STEM through after-school and summer programs because research shows interest in science and math among youth drops dramatically by eighth grade.
Today’s event, which was emceed by David Delmar Senties, Founder and Executive Director at United Way partner agency Resilient Coders also featured a panel discussion around STEM workforce development with Mohamad Ali, President & CEO at Carbonite, Lisa Brothers, Chairman & CEO at Nitsch Engineering, Chloe Hansen-Toone, Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Greg Janey, President & CEO at Janey Construction.
Jayona Thomas, an eighth-grader at the Martin Luther King, Jr. School in Dorchester was honored as United Way’s STEM Student of the Year for her achievements through the programs at Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center, an organization that is a part of United Way’s BoSTEM initiative.
Funds raised and volunteers recruited today will help United Way and BoSTEM meet the goal of reaching an additional 1,500 students over the next year, by engaging them in STEM activities during after-school and summer programs through its 12 community-based partner organizations, connecting them to companies through field trips and providing educators with externship opportunities that will provide them with the knowledge and confidence to inspire their students toward STEM careers.
Sponsors of United Way’s STEM Leadership Breakfast included Bank of America, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Deloitte, Eze Software, Mass. Electric Construction Company, Partners Healthcare, Constellation NewEnergy, Coverys, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Digital Guardian, Mintz Levin, Rapid7, Vertex, Atlantic Broadband, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, IBM, Janey Construction, KPMG, Magnetude Consulting, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Moody, PTC, and Security Innovation.