Welcome back readers! Sorry to have been away so long, but we have been extremely busy and have accomplished a great deal over the past year and there is still so much more to come. I thought I would share with you some of our successes over the past year to showcase what we have learned and where this organization is headed. 

First and foremost, we launched our first fund raising campaign this month on GlobalGiving and we are aggressively applying our social marketing skills to bring awareness to our programs and or funding needs. Our team has invested a great deal of our personal time and funds in building the infrastructure needed to scale our organization. This will ensure healthy growth and consistent results for the students and communities with which we engage.  To date, everything we have accomplished we did without any fulltime staff or funding from outside resources. Those efforts allowed us to build an organization and prove our ability to sustain independently. The fundraising campaign will now (hopefully) be able take us to the next level and allow us to grow outwardly in addition to expanding our interior.

Next, several new programs have been executed across the New York Metro area, Long Island, and in NYC.  Our programs, including Microsoft Discovery Day, impacted 100’s of students from schools across Long Island.  With the help of a very dedicated visual team we have also produced a video that highlights our capabilities and how we will impact students, teachers and communities. Interested viewers can find this video here.

Focusing on community and collaboration has also inspired three new online communities that have attracted hundreds of members. The first community, We Connect The Dots is a social platform that reaches out to our public audience who are passionate about supporting our organization through volunteering, donating, and learning together. 

We differentiate ourselves from other not for profit organizations who are focused on education and awareness in STEM.  We include the A in STE(A)M and emphasis the need to engage students through the Arts.  Without Art we would have no innovation or creativity to think beyond what exists today.  We need to encourage failure through creative expression and help students understand how a vision can become reality and solve problems for our future.  I encourage you to actively participate in our community by letting us know how we can help you better understand the challenges we face if we do not take action and engage our students in STEAM careers.

The second, our Yammer Student Network, CreatingSTEAM is a social platform where students ages 13-18 can engage in our online programs. Sessions led by industry experts offer instruction on topics such as 3D animation and application development, just to name a few. Students can meet experts, ask questions and learn about how these topics apply to important STEAM careers and correlate to what they learn in the classroom.  To learn more about our programs visit our website here.

And finally the third Yammer Student Network, The Cool Pool is a social platform where students ages 18-25 can engage in our online programs as well as apply for internships and job shadowing opportunities. Here students work together to build a network that empowers them to build successful careers.  A network where they can be social in a way that engages them to learn and to build networks with industry experts and STEAM businesses where they can discover career opportunities, find mentors, and engage in career coaching conversations.  

In the interest of expanding our educational reach We Connect the Dots has also built a virtual internship program for high school and college students. As a part of the internship program students learn to be Yammer community leads and participate in projects that support the development of our organization.  The virtual internship program is for students aged 16-25.  Students are on boarded to the program and have the opportunity to shape their learning plan and engage in projects leveraging the latest cloud services and tools. Students learn about career opportunities, learn the skills needed for careers in STEAM, seek mentors, career coaching and apply for job-shadowing opportunities with our partner organizations.

Moving toward the ultimate level of professional and student engagement our online and in person events are building momentum at a geometric rate. The flagship of our experiential learning initiative, our 5-day CreatingSTEAM student conference, has attracted many members and industry leaders. The conference will focus on educating students in 21st century workforce skills and guiding them to the careers available today and in the future. The conference also engages communities to learn together, empowers teachers to integrate technology in the classroom, teaches our students pertinent skills for a competitive future employment market, and bridges these collectives with industry experts and businesses in need of students with the right career skills. Parents are a part of the learning together approach through participation in our Yammer community and as volunteers in our programs.  Students whose parents understand the learning path can better engage and support their students learning needs.

As a result of our programs’ successes we are now a part of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative and we will be delivering the first of many to come events in Philadelphia on June 21st at the ExCITe Center at Drexel University. For more information about YouthSpark and you can visit the website  here. 

To date our programs have impacted over 500 students, teachers, and community partners and we look forward to scaling across the US, delivering these high quality programs to a community near you.  As we embark on our first fundraising campaign our ask is to help us do more by donating so that we can continue to expand our overall impact on students, teachers, and community members. If we can reach our current goal we will be offered a permanent spot on the GlobalGiving site, ensuring that we can continue to reach out for larger donations and leverage that capital to create better programs and attract more participation from the industry.

America is at a crossroads. Many of our young people are struggling to find work in our US labor force. Simultaneously, many open positions remain unoccupied as employers are unable to locate workers with the required skill set. Many of these unfilled jobs are in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) – the industries that propel innovation, competition and economic growth.

We Connect The Dots was created to address the challenge with the opportunity divide we face as a country and for that matter the world.  There are many jobs available today yet our students are leaving college in debt and unemployed.  Our students are not prepared to take those jobs when they become available.   To make an impact we need to inspire, inform and educate students on what careers are growing and the skills necessary to be ready for those roles.  Our conference is about getting students excited and learning through fun engaging activities.  We mix the learning approach throughout the day to challenge students and get them thinking differently.  Our intention is to stretch the students and get them uncomfortable to get comfortable with new experiences that will spark their curiosity in positive ways. Join us in this important initiative to bring about positive change for the future for our students future.  Be a part of the solution by donating funds to support our organization, volunteering your time to support our programs, or engage in our Yammer community to learn about other ways to support We Connect The Dots.

We’ll be back with more information in the near future, so please check back frequently to see our progress! Thanks for reading!

Further Reading: Check out these very interesting articles that highlight the career opportunities and what our next generation work force values most.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/monique-morrow/five-reasons-why-women-in-it_b_5198421.html

http://www.recruiter.com/i/meeting-the-demands-of-millennial-talent/