This weekend, nearly 75 students of color celebrated the commencement of the Summer Math and Science Academy (SMASH)—an immersive STEM enrichment program of the Level Playing Field Institute — at my alma mater, the University of California-Berkeley. After five weeks of on-campus instruction in math, science and computer science, the SMASH scholars presented their final projects to their families, friends, and members of the community.
Census data tells us that minorities are consistently underrepresented in the STEM-based workforce, with black and Hispanic workers making up just 13 percent of STEM employment.
The SMASH scholars spent their summer vacations sharpening their skills in the STEM disciplines and exploring how their interests can lead to a future career. In addition to academics, they also had the opportunity to form relationships with peers, mentors and role models — creating networks that will be critical as they pursue a degree and career in the field.
Census data tells us that minorities are consistently underrepresented in the STEM-based workforce, with black and Hispanic workers making up just 13 percent of STEM employment. Through organizations like the Level Playing Field Institute, students have the opportunity to hone their academic identities and develop the leadership skills they will need to persist in STEM.
This work is vitally important, as the tech industry needs a capable and diverse pipeline of employees to fuel 21st century jobs. At AT&T, almost three-fourths of recent student hires – including interns – begin their career in a technology-centric area, and so we remain focused on building a viable, creative and adaptive workforce that is prepared to face the changing needs of employers and customers.
Through AT&T Aspire, our signature education initiative, we’re proud to support organizations like the Level Playing Field Institute that are doing excellent work to create diversity and equity in the 21st century workforce. Through this program, nearly 1,200 students who are risk of not graduating from high school are deepening their passion for STEM and learning how they can apply their know-how to solve complex problems in their own communities. We look forward to seeing what these talented students achieve next.