In the next six months, this initiative will utilize mayors to help map resources and bring together a committee of groups dedicated to closing the gap. Johnson-Stempson hopes to pilot with four cities that are already working to further innovation in their respective areas: Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland, and Cambridge. Once plans have been written up, she envisions the participating mayors will present the plan and results at the United States Conference of Mayors, urging other city officials to sign on and get involved.
Chicago-native Neal Sales-Griffin, CEO of The Starter League (formerly Code Academy), has worked out a deal with his city, Chicago public schools and city colleges to train their teachers on how to educate students on the practical foundation for web development, which his company has successfully taught over 500 people since opening its doors. Sales-Griffin explained in his presentation, CS Online, the goal is for them to then teach over 2,000 students over the next year.
A similar STEM education initiative is being worked out amongst the heads of our country’s historically black colleges and universities. Dr. Womack discussed an extensive plan to get HBCUs competing in the tech marketplace, exposing and educating students and faculty about STEM opportunities, and building ecosystems on campus as well as in the surrounding communities. The initiative plans to loop in organizations such as Black Founders, NewME, and Black Girls Code, among others to help move the HBCU proposal forward.
Other initiatives discussed were Martinez’s Connect to Tech plan designed to banish existing tech silos, and co-founder and CEO of Citizen Schools Eric Schwarz and angel investor Kevin Eyres of GreyBella Ventures announced America 2020. The duo’s initiative plans to mobilize 1 million STEM professionals to work with and mentor today’s youth. Thus far, they have nine CEOs committed to donating 20% of their time, 20 hours per year, to mentorship.
“America is really built and defined by the bold things that we do. We rise to that challenge,” said Eyres. “It’s going to take a united effort to make a united change.”