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These 3 Philly educators were named ‘advocates’ for STEM opportunities

They'll receive $3,000 stipends to support underrepresented students with independent research and applying to science fairs.

In the lab. (Photo by Artem Podrez via Pexels)

In the world of STEM education, every little bit of support counts, whether that be external professional development, partnerships with tech companies or grants to bring more opportunities to students.

Three Philly educators are kicking off the 2022-2023 school year with some extra money to provide more of the latter at their schools.

Society for Science, a DC-based STEM education nonprofit, recently announced its list of 84 educators who will be receiving grants for the 2022-2023 Advocate Program. Now in its eighth year, the program identifies educators as “advocates” for historically underserved and underrepresented students by expanding STEM opportunities.

The advocates will each recruit cohorts of three to five students and help them with independent science research. The educators will then assist their students with looking for science fairs to enter, acquiring materials, meeting deadlines and the like.

This year, 73 advocates received $3,000 stipends. Advocates were chosen from schools all over the country, including these three from Philadelphia:

  • Denise Caceres of Olney’s Philadelphia High School for Girls
  • Marquita Hammock of Eastwick’s Southwest Leadership Academy
  • Eual Phillips of Mt. Airy’s Hill-Freedman World Academy

Caceres is returning after being an advocate in the 2018-2019 cycle.

The program operates in one-year cycles, and a goal is to increase the number of students that are mentored by advocates in each cycle. Since launching, the Advocate Program has supported more than 5,100 participating students, and nearly 4,000 of those students successfully competed in at least one science competition, per the organization.

“This is particularly encouraging and exciting because this means these young scientists are being raised to be the world’s next generation of problem solvers,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science, in a statement. “I’m thrilled to honor our Advocates this year — these teachers are heroes who are fundamentally changing the trajectory of the lives of diverse students through this program.”

Society for Science also gave three Philly-area students a boost when they were selected to participate in its 2022 Regeneron Science Talent Search this past February. Parkland High School’s Victor Cai, The Charter School of Wilmington’s Claire Andreasen and Conestoga High School’s Leo Wylonis were working on the future of radar, electronics and surgical robotics, respectively. In that national competition, each finalist was awarded up to $25,000 and participated in a weeklong competition in March.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 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.

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