Though Philadelphia ranked second in a recent list of best cities for STEM diversity, but there’s still plenty of work to do to ensure underrepresented groups have access to the industry that so often spells prosperity for its workers.
We’ve seen a number of efforts start up in the past few months to support that mission, including University City Science Center’s first cohort of a free lab skills training program and the City of Philadelphia’s (now paused, we must assume) reach-out to local tech companies to discuss building a more equitable talent pipeline.
Furthering equity efforts, multinational pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced a $10 million commitment to boost local Black, Latinx and female students’ pursuits of STEM careers by way of the Philadelphia STEM Equity Collective.
The Philadelphia Education Fund-managed program formed with GSK is designed to increase collaboration between local schools, universities, government, companies and other STEM-focused stakeholders; this new funding aims to address the barriers that keep children from underrepresented groups from pursuing such careers, offering support by way of after-school programming, field trips and the like.
“This is fundamentally the most important thing we can do to shape our city’s future,” Mayor Jim Kenney said at a virtual news conference Wednesday.
GSK will financially support the Philadelphia STEM Equity Collective by paying management staff at the Philadelphia Education Fund and offering GSK employees as volunteers.
The pharma company’s funding commitment will also be distributed in the form of annual $1 million grants to local nonprofits for the next 10 years. A first grant, given to Equal Measure, will be used to develop a measurement system to track progress and outcomes.
“At GlaxoSmithKline, we believe that diversity helps to propel the innovation that can make our world better,” GSK President of U.S. Pharmaceuticals Maya Martinez-Davis said. “But we know that for far too long, too many challenges have stood in the way of true inclusion of people of color and women in STEM careers. The mission of the Philadelphia STEM Equity Collective is to overcome those challenges to benefit the children of Philadelphia.”
Philadelphia Education Fund President and CEO Farah Jimenez expressed gratitude for GSK’s financial support and assistance in creating the Philadelphia STEM Equity Collective.
The fund “was founded by individuals who believed Philadelphia schoolchildren deserve equitable access to college and career success,” she said. “Students who are underrepresented on college campuses and in high-growth careers deserve our support to access these opportunities.”
The Philadelphia STEM Equity Collective is a part of the Philadelphia STEM Ecosystem, which leads STEM stakeholder engagement. See its full list of partners here — and see its steering committee, which includes some familiar names, below:
- Nancy Peter, McKinney Center, Philadelphia Education Fund
- Betsy Payne, Philadelphia STEM Ecosystem, Philadelphia Education Fund
- Bonnie Hallam, Philadelphia Regional Noyce Partnership
- Charity Lisko
- Jeffrey Popyack, Drexel University
- KD Davenport, School District of Philadelphia
- Lisa DellaPorta, NextFab
- Marilyn Torres, Academy of Natural Sciences
- Phillip Brooks, University City Science Center
- Salvatore Sandone, Zhang Sah Martial Arts
- Victor Donnay, Philadelphia Regional Noyce Partnership
Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.-30-