STEM Spotlight: Burns Leads Effort to Change The Equation - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

President Barack Obama appointed Ursula Burns head of the White House national program on STEM in November 2009. (Photo source: Xerox Corp.)

In support of his idea that America’s success depends on strengthening its role as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation, Obama announced last Thursday, a major expansion of the Educate to Innovate Campaign that he launched in November 2009. The new addition, Change the Equation, is a CEO-led effort to dramatically improve education in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Ursula M. Burns, leader of the White House STEM program, Xerox CEO, and the first African American woman to run one of the largest publicly traded companies is leading the Change the Equation initiative. She co-founded the program with astronaut Sally Ride, former Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt, and Eastman Kodak CEO Antonio Perez. Change the Equation will utilize the resources of 100 CEO’s to achieve a sustained commitment to improving STEM education. It will also help companies increase their own  engagement in STEM education, as well as create a state-by-state “scorecard” to highlight areas for state-level improvement.

The program is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York, will receive $5 million of funding for its first year of operations, and plans to replicate successful privately-funded programs in 100 high-need schools and communities by:

-    allowing more students to engage in robotics competitions,
-    improving professional development for math and science teachers,
-    increasing the number of students that take and pass rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) math and science courses,
-    increasing the number of teachers who enter the profession with a STEM undergraduate degree
-    providing new opportunities to traditionally underrepresented students and underserved communities.

The President also announced specific public-private partnerships such as the National STEM Video Game Challenge, which will target students in high-poverty schools from under-served urban and rural communities.

The challenge involves two annual competitions — focused on both playing and designing games for STEM learning. Student designers from 5th to 8th grade can receive $50,000 in prize money, and the Developer Prize will be open to anyone and focus on STEM games for early learners, pre-K to 4th grade. Private entities like the Entertainment Software Association and Microsoft, will partner with non profits and foundations like the American Library Association, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America among others to execute the challenge.

In addition, the Sunnyvale, CA-based silicone and software company AMD will expand its “Changing the Game” initiative over the next three years, reaching 20 regions and 10,000 children with hands-on game development.

Finally, the President’s Council of Advisors in Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report outlining ambitious new policy proposals for improving STEM education. The report includes specific and practical recommendations that school administrators can take and recommends that the federal government  improves coordination and leadership on STEM education. It also calls for increasing support of state-led movements and school districts in their effort to create vibrant STEM learning environments, adopting a common baseline for what students learn in STEM, recruiting and rewarding STEM teachers, and creating experiences that excite and interest students of all backgrounds.

For more information on White House STEM Projects visit:

Youth Inspired Challenge

You Media – 21st Century Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums

National Lab Day

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.