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The 2015 Kansas STEM Mentoring Initiative (VGF) Grant

In 2009, Congress passed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (SAA), the most sweeping expansion of national service in a generation.  The SAA created the Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) to develop and/or support community-based entities to recruit, manage, and support volunteers.  Through VGF grants, CNCS seeks to fund effective approaches that expand volunteering, strengthen the capacity of volunteer connector organizations, and develop strategies to effectively use volunteers to solve problems.

The Kansas Volunteer Commission will provide grant funds available under the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to increase the number of STEM mentors serving the youth of Kansas, through the Kansas STEM Mentoring Initiative (VGF) Grant.

According to the US Department of Commerce, STEM jobs in the United States, in the past ten years, have grown at three times the pace of non-STEM jobs.  Additionally, eighty percent of the fastest growing occupations in the United States depend upon the mastery of mathematics and scientific knowledge and skills.  Yet, it is estimated that by 2018 there will be 1.2 million US job openings in STEM fields, with a significant shortage of qualified applicants to fill them (US2020).  Investing in STEM education and sparking the STEM interest in students is necessary to ensure that our youth not only become interested in STEM careers, but are fully prepared when they embark on the college and career pathway to attain their STEM job.

The KVC understands that mentoring is a powerful way to transform a student's vision of themselves.  But in order to create a student population with a passion to learn more STEM, and a drive to pursue STEM careers, we know that adults need to do more than lecture to students.  Therefore, the Kansas STEM Mentoring Initiative will foster a consistent approach to STEM education, yet allow for organic development of STEM programs matching local strengths, challenges and resources. 

2015 Volunteer Generation Fund Recipients

Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence
Serving Douglas County
The Boys & Girls Club STEM Mentoring program will pair caring adults from different community partners with students in STEM Clubs during the after school program.  Mentors will be recruited and trained to provide planned STEM activities during Club times.  Both students and mentors will work together to complete tasks and projects through STEM kits.

Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters
Serving Douglas, Ellis, Montgomery, Riley, & Shawnee Counties
Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters (KSBBBS) is in a position where we have a tremendous impact on the development and success of Kansas youth.  With support from the Kansas STEM Mentoring Initiative (VGF) and matching funds, KSBBBS proposes to serve 50 at-risk youth in five pilot locations by partnering with local universities and community college STEM Departments for the recruitment of mentors and the delivery of STEM education opportunities.  Our overall goal is to further develop our current STEM model to include an innovative, solution-seeking strategy that will not only improve educational outcomes, but will also introduce youth to STEM professions that are projected to experience employee shortages over the next decade--especially careers within the science and engineering fields.  Through community collaborations and support, this pilot could lead to duplication of the model statewide and move us closer to our strategic vision of serving 10,000 Kansas youth by the year 2020.

Reno County Communities That Care, Association
Serving Reno County
The goal of our project is to recruit, screen, train and place highly-qualified STEM mentors at Hutchinson Magnet School at Allen to help meet the school's need for STEM mentors.  Allen is an exclusively STEM school with a diverse student population, room for academic growth and tremendous potential among the students to develop a desire to pursue STEM careers.  This project will place between 32 and 36 STEM mentors at Allen in conjunction with two core STEM curriculums: Project Lead the Way and Engineering is Elementary.  Allen students will be mentored by STEM mentors who have a career in the particular field being studied in one of 32 sections of the curriculum.  Students will develop relationships with these STEM mentors in order to help students know and understand STEM careers, be able to visualize themselves in a STEM career and improve their desire to pursue a STEM career.

United Way of Franklin County Association
Serving Franklin County
United Way of Franklin County Association (UWFCA) has a network of local businesses and corporate partnerships which put it in a unique position to take on challenging volunteer initiatives.  Currently, UWFCA persuades employees from its partnerships to volunteer professional skills in ways that build organizational capacity.  UWFCA is expanding the United Loaned Executives Program model KVC supported in 2014 to include STEM mentoring opportunities.  The mentoring part of the program will be known as the "STEM United Youth Project" and volunteers will be required to have STEM careers, degrees or certifications.  The project goal is to encourage STEM academic achievement and foster STEM career interests in Franklin County youth.  UWFCA will recruit, interview, train and coordinate STEM professionals to be mentors, work with member agencies to identify youth in need of the STEM mentors and assign volunteer background checks and match oversight to UWFCA mentoring organizations.

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