Girl Scouts and AT&T are uniting to advance underserved high school girls in science and engineering. As minority students and women are gravitating away from science and engineering toward other professions, and employment in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields are increasing at a faster pace than in non-STEM fields, educational experts say the U.S. must increase proficiency and interest in these areas to compete in the global economy. Today, the Girl Scouts of the USA and AT&T* are addressing this issue with a $1 million AT&T Aspire contribution to spark interest in STEM in underserved high school girls across the country.
The initiative, called "IMAGINE: Your STEM Future," is designed to reach 6,000 young women and introduce them to a variety of career options in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. AT&T's contribution is among the largest gifts ever made to Girls Scouts of the USA going toward STEM programs.
"As Girl Scouts of the USA prepares to celebrate 100 years of creating girls of courage, confidence and character, we are expanding our focus to help young women explore educational and future workforce options," said Kathy Cloninger, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts USA. "AT&T's contribution enables us to grow our current range of STEM programs, bridging the gap for thousands of girls."
From November 2011 through summer 2012, 18 Girl Scouts Councils, selected through a national competitive grant process, will participate in an educational curriculum called IMAGINE, provided in a creative kit. The IMAGINE curriculum offers opportunities for high school girls to team up with AT&T employees and other volunteers to participate in interactive activities and visual experiments, such as extracting DNA from a banana. These activities are designed to help students imagine a future STEM career and spark interest in taking additional STEM courses in high school and college and open doors to new career options.
Experts say the country's need for a world-leading STEM workforce will continue to grow. Recent research from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce predicts 2.8 million STEM job openings as of 2018, including 1.2 million net new jobs and an additional 1.6 million replacement openings.
"Not only are STEM disciplines integral to communications technology and at the heart of our business, they are increasingly important to every business and the growth of our economy. That's why all students need at least basic STEM knowledge," said Cathy Coughlin, senior executive vice president and global marketing officer for AT&T. "Our work with the Girl Scouts is vital to helping young women develop these skills so they can effectively compete with students from around the world in advanced technology fields and enjoy productive and rewarding careers."
The 18 Girl Scout Councils participating in IMAGINE are located in: Birmingham, Ala.; Irvine, Calif.; San Diego, Calif.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Jupiter, Fla.; Mableton, Ga.; Elgin, Ill.; Evansville; Ind.; Wichita, Kan.; Kansas City, Mo.; St. Louis, Mo.; Miquon, Pa.; Omaha, Neb.; Pleasantville, N.Y.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Dallas, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; and Spokane, Wash.
The contribution was made through AT&T Aspire, a $100 million commitment with the goal of helping students achieve their best possible futures. Launched in 2008, AT&T Aspire is one of the largest-ever corporate commitments to address high school success leading to college and career readiness.