By Written by Ted Wells & Kayla Brown (STEMConnector)
Governor Gina M. Raimondo has officially kicked off Rhode Island’s participation in the national Million Women Mentors (MWM) initiative. The initiative seeks to support the engagement of one million Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) mentors (male and female) to increase the interest and confidence of girls and women to persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers.
Raimondo will serve as honorary chair of the MWM-Rhode Island State Leadership Team. “I am honored to serve as Honorary Chairwoman of the State Leadership Team for Million Women Mentors,” said Raimondo. “Students who concentrate on science, technology, engineering and math will be prepared to take their place in the high-growth, well-paying fields that increasingly drive the 21st century economy. It is critical that we provide Rhode Islanders with the skills they need to compete on an equal playing field. Through Million Women Mentors, we will ensure our girls get a fair shot.”
“STEM fields are growing quickly in Rhode Island and beyond, but women remain vastly underrepresented. It’s clear we need to encourage women of all ages to pursue educations and careers in the STEM disciplines – and in art and design where it intersects with STEM,” said Congressman Jim Langevin, who co-chairs the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus. “Mentors inspire young people, and I am confident that the Million Women Mentors in Rhode Island will empower a new generation of women in the STEM workforce, which is a win for them and a win for our economy.”
The state’s initiative will be spearheaded by the Rhode Island STEAM Center at Rhode Island College and the MWM-RI State Leadership Team comprised of several organizations and businesses committed to mentoring and STEM careers. “We are so happy to have the support of Governor Raimondo, businesses like Amgen, and organizations like the RI Mentoring Partnership who understand the value of mentoring in addressing the gender gap in STEM,” said Carol Giuriceo, Ph.D., Director of the Rhode Island STEAM Center.
“As a leading biotechnology company, Amgen is committed to making the study of science and technology exciting for young learners who might help us discover the medicines of tomorrow,” said Tia Bush, Vice President, Site Operations, Amgen Rhode Island. “We continually support local community organizations such as RI Mentoring Partnership that have a strong commitment to mentoring and inspiring the next generation of scientists.”
Since 2014, the Amgen Foundation has provided an annual grant to RI Mentoring Partnership to develop high quality trainings for mentor program coordinators to integrate STEM activities into the youth mentoring relationships. Funding from the 2016 grant enabled the creation of a STEM Mentoring toolkit that provides instructions and guides on conducting hands-on activities.
Additionally, Bush was presented with the MWM-RI Stand Up for STEM Award, a special honor given to one company, girl-serving organization, or individual that has had an exceptional impact on girls and women in STEM through mentoring. Bush served on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State as well as the Amgen Senior Women’s Advisory Council, which provides leadership and mentorship opportunities for women leaders within our organization.
In addition to the kick-off Governor Raimondo signed a proclamation recognizing January as National Mentoring Month in Rhode Island. “Each January we celebrate National Mentoring Month, to raise awareness of the need for mentors in our community, the difference mentors make for young people and how easy it is to volunteer,” said Jo-Ann Schofield, President & CEO of the RI Mentoring Partnership. “We are happy to lend to Million Women Mentors – Rhode Island, our expertise in mentoring and our ability to connect people who want to mentor with the programs that need mentors.”
MWM-RI’s mission is to build a STEM Mentor network that connects education, industry, and government for the purpose of engaging and motivating girls and women to increase their STEM literacy and pursue careers in STEM. Individuals and companies interested in providing STEM mentors or organizations and schools needing STEM mentors should contact ristem(at)ric(dot)edu.
About Million Women Mentors
Million Women Mentors is an initiative of STEMconnector in collaboration with over 60+ partners reaching over 30 million girls and women, 60+ corporate sponsors, 60+ national partners, and 39+ state leadership teams. Through the engagement of one million mentors, our goals are to: 1) Increase the percentage of high school girls planning to pursue STEM careers; 2) Increase the percentage of young women pursuing undergraduate degrees in STEM fields; and 3) Increase the percentage of women staying and advancing in STEM careers through supporting workforce mentoring programs.
About Rhode Island STEAM Center
The Rhode Island STEAM Center serves as a central educational hub and statewide resource focused on building partnerships, advocating for increased STEAM literacy, and nurturing, promoting, and implementing research-based practices. Our mission is to provide leadership and advocacy for increasing science, technology, engineering, arts + design, mathematics (STEAM) literacy in Rhode Island through sustaining partnerships with higher education, K-12, business and industry, afterschool programs, non-profit organizations, community-based groups, and government agencies that are dedicated to building long-term interest and active engagement in STEAM among ALL Rhode Islanders through the continual sharing and exchange of knowledge, ideas and experiences. For more information visit http://www.ristemcenter.net.
About RI Mentoring Partnership
Our mission is to ensure youth have access to the motivational and supportive relationships they need to grow into confident, successful adults. We envision a Rhode Island where all youth are connected to relationships with adults who inspire and support them. All youth will have role models who provide a road map for lifelong success and achievement. RIMP serves as an umbrella organization for dozens of mentoring programs around Rhode Island offering help with recruitment, training, and technical assistance. RIMP is also directly responsible for the coordination of the school-based mentoring programs in Warwick, Woonsocket, Newport, Middletown, & Cranston. For more information visit http://www.MentorRI.org