Diversity & Inclusion
Funding / Nonprofits / STEM / Workplace culture

This education nonprofit’s ‘STEM equity and innovation lab’ got a $100K boost

The Comcast grant will fund and expand Steppingstone Scholars' internship and mentoring programs, plus computer science and advanced math instruction for the next few years.

At work. (Photo by Flickr user WOCinTech Chat, used under a Creative Commons license)

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Education nonprofit Steppingstone Scholars is the recipient of a $100,000 grant from Comcast NBCUniversal to support its “STEM equity and innovation lab,” Inveniam.

Steppingstone prepares Philly students ages 10 to 24 for higher ed and the workforce. It launched the lab in October 2020 in partnership with University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, providing STEM-based college prep programming and opportunities to K-12 students in the School District of Philadelphia.

Inveniam has two initiatives already underway. First, Steppingstone leaders are working with Penn Engineering professors on a year-long online Advanced Placement computer science course for high school students. The course would begin fall 2021, and enroll 3,000 students with supplemental instruction from Penn Engineering grad students. A similar course for high-level math and physics is also being developed, Steppingstone said.

And in June, the Inveniam internship and placement program will launch with five VC and wealth management firms to place 10 students into an internship after their junior year of college. The program’s goal is to “create a path from college to career and socioeconomic mobility in this wealth-generating industry, which historically, has had little diversity,” Steppingstone said in a statement. (The data backs that up emphatically.)

The Inveniam lab will also expand Steppingstone’s Blended Learning Initiative, the organization said. Currently, the program gives 70 students access to college-level course content, but it will expand to 100 students by summer 2022, and add an engineering internship program for 10 high school students.

In 2024, the organization will also be adding a Data Science Scholars program, with college prep and career mentorship for 20 high school students.

“The School District of Philadelphia has an immense need for increased STEM education resources — a need that has serious long-term implications for the city if not met,” said Sean Vereen, president of Steppingstone, in a statement. “If we are to cultivate home-grown talent and combat the systemic racism and poverty that has plagued our city for generations, we must create pathways for our communities to benefit from the innovation economy. When we have equal opportunity in our economy it will benefit all of us.”

The grant was awarded from Comcast through an initiative launched last summer aiming to advance equity in the communities where its customers and employees live and work. The grant supporting Steppingstone will help equip students with digital skills that are critical to their success in the changing economy, said Dalila Wilson-Scott, EVP and chief diversity officer at Comcast.

“Programs like Inveniam help bridge the opportunity divide and we are thrilled to partner with Steppingstone Scholars in creating equitable pathways to employment in tech,” she said.

Companies: Comcast / University of Pennsylvania
Series: Philadelphia Journalism Collaborative

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