Making STEM a Priority
From building video game controllers with conductive playdough to creating stop motion animation videos to building spaghetti and marshmallow towers, the students fortunate enough to land a coveted spot at 9 Dots Community Learning Center’s free after-school program in Los Angeles are developing a passion for STEM (academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math).
Driven by young Stanford graduates who traded comfortable corporate careers for community service that put their own STEM skills to task, 9 Dots opened its doors in 2011, and in doing so, opened the doors for underserved youth to a world that makes science, technology, engineering and math fun and exciting. The organization was inspired by the 9 dots puzzle, a 3 x 3 grid that drives students to think outside of the box to solve challenges – the kind of innovative thinking that is at the foundation of 9 Dots’ teaching philosophy.
Based in Los Angeles, Calif., this nonprofit helps economically disadvantaged students – many of whom are minorities – develop the engineering, language and creative skills they need to become 21st century innovators. Unequal opportunities and lack of access have long impacted lower achievement in math and science, leaving underserved youth like these unprepared to pursue a career in STEM. Only 12 percent of the STEM workforce are currently African American or Latino.
This innovative program not only strengthens academic fundamentals through enrichment curriculum, but also creates original STEM projects that teach exploration, inquiry and innovation. Students build a newfound confidence and master the skills that prepare them to succeed in the careers that are among the fastest-growing and most lucrative occupations of the future – a future that is estimated to offer about 2.4 million new job opportunities by 2020.
For these underserved youth, dreams and aspirations can be realized. By choosing STEM, they choose a better future.
An Energy Encore for Dell’Arte
For Dell’Arte International, the world is quite literally a stage. And, the critically acclaimed nonprofit theatrical organization brings that cultural stage to California where they have engendered the relationship between art and place, artist and community for 40 years.
Since opening its doors in 1975, the organization has been providing a unique blend of arts and community service that has cultivated strong ties between Dell’Arte and the town of Blue Lake – and other rural and culturally diverse towns in Northwest California. In a sense, the theatre has become a community epicenter – providing local arts initiatives and attracting visitors from around the world.
Now, committed as ever to the community’s preservation and growth, Dell’Arte is embarking on a solar energy project that will increase the theatre’s energy efficiency and utilize the region’s available solar power. By installing a 17kW solar generator, the theatre will offset between 50 and 70 percent of its electricity use and ultimately achieve a high level of energy independence – a strategic vision for the Blue Lake community and the larger state of California.
But Dell’Arte has an even loftier goal in mind. By investing in solar technology, the theatre hopes to bring solar awareness to its community and serve as a catalyst for area residents, businesses and other nonprofits. For rural towns like Blue Lake – where access to high technology is inconsistent – energy independence can reduce costs, increase efficiency, and lead to sustainable operations.
By shining a spotlight on solar power, Dell’Arte continues to lead by example, both on and off the stage, and protect an environment and community vital to the organization’s success.
Urban Teacher Residency United (UTRU)
Urban districts across the nation continue to have an unmet need for highly effective teachers who have the knowledge and skills to improve student achievement. Today, roughly 50 percent of all urban public school teachers nationwide leave their positions in less than three years. The desire to educate exists, but teachers aren’t always adequately prepared to make an immediate impact on kids.
Urban Teacher Residency United’s (UTRU) signature technical assistance program develops and supports highly effective teacher residency programs that focus on developing teachers to be successful in urban districts. Residency programs are the most comprehensive model of teacher preparation in the nation. Residencies play an increasingly important role in designing human capital strategies by creating a pathway that responds directly to the hiring needs of school districts. In addition, residencies provide career advancement for experienced teachers to act as mentors, while developing highly effective new teachers that are capable of impacting student achievement from the moment they enter the classroom as a teacher of record.