In the News
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Two organizations have joined forces with one shared goal in mind: building an “intentional pipeline” to get more students of color into tech. For the next five years, Raytheon Technologies, which specializes in aerospace and defense, will contribute nearly $8 million to support scholarships, internships and mentoring for high school students of color participating in the Kapor Center’s SMASH (Summer Math and Science Honor Academy) program. Learn More
SMASH will receive a $5,000 USD donation to the charity of their choice and will be honored today as part of the “10 Days of .ORG” online experience that celebrates the range of achievements that have healed, inspired, transformed and connected communities over the past year. Learn More.
SMASH Illinois Site Director Tracie Screven and her scholars share some inside scoop about their 2019 SMASH Academy experience. Listen into what drew these scholars to SMASH, their career goals after high school, and more!
“Before SMASH, I wasn’t really focused on issues going on right now, but Dr. Bronner’s class brought me the awareness of sustainability: social, economic and environmental,” said class member Elisama. “I enjoyed finding solutions to problems going on in my own community.” More here.
German Jimenez, who will be a junior at a public high school called Life Academy in Oakland this fall, was busy this summer at SMASH designing ways to reduce air pollution in the San Francisco Bay Area. More here.
“We all know that the face of STEM is not what we want to see,” SIUC Chancellor John Dunn told the students. “We need more brown. We need more black. We need to have the opportunity to open the human potential that’s there in every person.” More here.
Dean of the Khoury College of Computer Sciences, Carla Brodley, emphasizes the multifaceted nature of the partnership with Akamai and SMASH. “We are excited about the SMASH Northeastern partnership. More here.
“The biggest thing that comes out of this is that the kids that finish the program … over 85 percent of them then go on to college, and they graduate with a STEM degree,” CCHS principal Ryan Thomas said. “That’s huge. More here.
SMASH students are prepped in STEM subjects they’ll encounter in college and take intro courses like statistics or economics. U.S. News & World Report has called SMASH “perhaps the most ambitious program” to encourage African-American and Latino students in STEM fields. More here.
Tracie Screven is the Site Director for SMASH at Illinois Institute of Technology. She joins WVON to talk about the partnership SMASH has with the Institute of Technology and CPASS Foundation. Listen here.
Meera Komarraju, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic affairs, said the program is not only focused on science technology, engineering or math, but also helps students with design thinking, creative problem solving, leadership and college prep. She said the best part of the program is it provides mentoring and support for the students. More here.
The Kapor Center has already established SMASH academies in California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. According to the center’s data, every SMASH student graduates high school and 91 percent earn a college degree within five years, 31 percentage points higher than the national rate. More here.
SMASH, the signature STEM education program of the Kapor Center, announces SMASH Illinois, its first statewide initiative program partnership with Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech), Southern Illinois University (SIUC) Carbondale, and the Creating Pathways and Access for Student Success (CPASS) Foundation. More here.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale leaders stood alongside a Californian tech mogul and Illinois’ new lieutenant governor, Juliana Stratton, in downtown Chicago to announce a program that will change the lives of kids in Southern Illinois. More here.
LaToya Tufts is the SMASH Wharton Site Director. She joins Wake Up With WURD to talk about the partnership that SMASH has with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and to talk about the application process. The program works to provide rigorous science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programming to students of color in the greater Philadelphia metro area. Listen here.
Late’jah Whittaker has always loved science. She started making robots in the fourth grade. In the fifth grade, she attended her first computer science-based program, learning how to program and make games. In high school, she excitedly registered for an Advanced Placement computer science course. But when she walked into class for the first time, she was shocked. More here.
Slowly but surely, Detroit is becoming a hub for technology and innovation. With large-scale STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) conferences such as this month’s AfroTech and the 2019 National Society of Black Engineers convention eyeing Detroit as their host city, diversity in the field has become a major talking point. More here.
A learning opportunity for local high school students at Wayne State University — Smash Academy is a five-week STEM camp that take students through biology, computer science and math courses. Watch here.
On this episode of CTRL+T, Megan Rose Dickey chats with Dr. Jennifer Cohen of the Level Playing Field Institute, an organization that aims to improve access and increase opportunity for people of color in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Listen here.
As a black woman, Cohen is not the typical face you’d see in a biochemistry lab. The sad reality is science and technology careers are still predominately assumed by white men even though there is a large reservoir of untapped talent among women and people of color. More here.
Univision stopped by SMASH at Stanford this summer to interview and highlight some of our scholars and the program in the South Bay.
A first for our SMASH program, this segment was produced in Spanish! You’ll see 4 of our SMASH Stanford scholars and our SMASH Program Director, William Cardenas, featured in this video clip. Watch here.
Students from high schools throughout Los Angeles were applauded by family members and teachers during UCLA’s SMASH Graduation and Recognition Ceremony July 29. In one STEM class this year, students merged their learning of computer science with research about contagious diseases. More here.
Ninth graders who apply for the Level Playing Field Institute’s SMASH Academy – an intensive summer program to teach science and math skills to underrepresented students of color – go through a rigorous process similar to a college application. They write an essay, get interviewed, submit references, and take a math test; only 20% are admitted. But for those who make it, the experience is transformative, according to LPFI CEO Eli Kennedy. “We look for students with a deep interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) but who have not recognized their potential,” Kennedy says. “We want to change their trajectory so they go onto college.” More here.
Major tech companies have blamed the lack of diversity in their workforce on a “pipeline problem,” meaning a lack of available talent. To address the vacuum, an increasing number of nonprofit programs are focused on expanding the representation of minorities in the tech sector.
These nonprofits are picking up the slack in an area where California public schools have lacked either the resources or the foresight to prepare students for this vibrant sector. More here.
“The consistent thing we hear from the Facebooks and Googles of the world is that they are not able to identify young talented people of color,” explained Eli Kennedy CEO of the Level Playing Field Institute, the organization that heads up the Summer Math and Science Honors program at UCLA.
“At the same time, we’re seeing job growth in America being driven by the tech sector.”
Low income students of color need the SMASH program to be able to compete, he said.
That is why, according to program officials, SMASH is free of charge.
Read more here in the Los Angeles Sentinel.
When 28 high school-age boys signed up to participate in the first year of a STEM program at Morehouse College, they could never have predicted the bond that would develop among them.
STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers are predicted to continue to grow according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration, but nonwhite young men ― especially Black ones ― are some of the least represented.
Read more here from in the Atlanta Black Star.
About two dozen metro Atlanta public school students are spending much of their summer vacation on a college campus learning skills their instructors and organizers believe will help them improve academically and help others.
The students are the first local participants in a five-week science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) camp at Morehouse College that includes a social justice component. Organizers said the camp’s goal is to get the students, all rising tenth-graders, to begin thinking about solutions to problems impacting under-served communities.
Read more here in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“The Color of STEM” is a thirty-minute 6-part television profile series that features HBCU schools, students and alumni, and takes a look at HBCU’s partnerships with industry leadership, organizations and government agencies as they provide career opportunities and program support. The Color of STEM also highlights the accomplishments that other underrepresented minorities are making and continue to make in the area of STEM.
LPFI was asked to participate in interviews for the next episode of this series. Check out Dr. Cohen’s interview below!
In an evening full of total engagement, immersed in the likes of entrepreneurs, astronauts, National Society of Black Engineers’ leaders and students, the #BlackSTEMLikeMe hashtag rang loud and clear.
We were met with stories of trials and triumphs, but they didn’t end on the stage. A clip was shown, we heard from speakers, and then the attention was turned to the audience. It was our turn. Topics surfaced like: explain a time when you were the “Hidden Figure” to give an example of when you had to take an active leadership position and make some less than desirable decisions.
Talk about vulnerability. Read more here in Black Enterprise.
The movie tells the story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, African-American women working at NASA who served as some of the brains behind John Glenn’s historic orbit of Earth in 1962.
And similar film screenings and forums are being held throughout the country, with high hopes that the film will galvanize interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — also known as STEM — in minority girls and boys….
Jennifer R. Cohen, site director of SMASH Berkeley, which is a free Summer Math and Science Honors Academy at UC Berkeley offered to underrepresented high school students of color, said her nonprofit has also been hosting screenings of the film, and it’s been inspiring to see young people’s response.
“They were saying we didn’t even know this was a part of history and part of space exploration. This has been a story of national pride, for many black women,” she said.
Read more here in the East Bay Times.
LPFI Communications Manager/SMASH Alum, Ashleigh Richelle and Site Director of SMASH Stanford, Gabriel Chaparro came to our studios to discuss the SMASH program offered to underrepresented High School students as a free college preparatory STEM-Intensive Summer Math And Science Honors Academy program. Listen or visit here.
LPFI Computer Science Specialist, Aaron Hobson, sat down with KTVU Morning on the 9 news team to discuss how parents can help their children get a head start in STEM and CS. One suggestion was getting your child involved in a program, like SMASH Academy!
Check out the full interview below.
Dr. Jennifer R. Cohen and Eli Kennedy work at the Level Playing Field Institute (new.lpfi.org), a nonprofit that provides free educational programs and resources to support underrepresented minority students in the Bay Area and help them pursue STEM careers.
“When I was in elementary school (Lakeshore Elementary School in San Francisco), my mother would tell me all the time that I will make a great scientist,” Cohen says. “My mother was a stay-at-home mom at the time, and although we didn’t know any scientists, I believed her when she told me I could and would be a great scientist.”
Read more here in Bay Area Parent about how parents can encourage their children to get into STEM.
Computer occupations are not only some of the fastest growing in California and the nation, but also among the highest paying. Yet, by 2022, the nation is projected to have 1.3 million unfilled jobs in these fields, many of which will be located in our state.
In large part, this shortfall is a consequence of the lack of access and disparities in access to computer science education in California. According to the Level Playing Field Institute, 65 percent of California public high schools offered no computer science courses in 2015; only 13 percent offered AP Computer Science.
Read more here at The San Jose Mercury.
Listen to CEO Eli Kennedy’s interview on “Dollars & Change,” originally aired on Sirius XM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School. Hosts are Katherine Klein and Nick Ashburn.
It wouldn’t be hard to win a drinking game centered on the word “diversity,” considering how often the term gets tossed around in the tech world. We have diversity data, diversity initiatives, diversity events and more diversity initiatives. But the tech industry cannot talk about (much less solve) its lack of diversity in a bubble.
Consider Facebook’s recent efforts to diversify its workforce and how those efforts contrast with the company’s actual data on diversity. For all of Facebook’s talk about increasing diversity, updated numbers showed no year-over-year rise in its dismal percentage of Hispanic (4%) and black (2%) employees in its workforce.
Read more here at The Bold Italic.
The Kapor Center for Social Impact is pushing for Oakland’s expanding tech industry to reflect the city’s diversity. The Kapor Center purchased a billboard on Broadway and 22nd Street that reads, “As Oakland becomes more tech, let’s ensure tech becomes more Oakland.”
The billboard features the face of Haile Shavers, a computer science major at UC Berkeley. Shavers is an alum of SMASH (Summer Math and Science Honors Academy), an educational program for low-income teens of color to take STEM courses. At the opening for the Kapor Center’s Oakland headquarters, Shavers spoke to Youth Radio’s Grace Vaughan Brekke about getting her start in coding. What follows are excerpts from their conversation.
Read more here at YouthRadio.