April 10-16, 2016 is National Volunteer Week in Canada and the United States – the time of year when we aim to inspire, recognize and encourage people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. I think one of the most exciting ways that volunteers can have an impact is in helping prepare students for employment through the mastery of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Looking for some inspiration? Here are three ways that volunteers are already working with United Way to promote STEM:
United Way of Metropolitan Dallas joined with Dallas Cowboys Legend Tony Dorsett and 60 volunteers from Texas Instruments (TI) for a ‘STEM in the Schoolyard’ event. More than 100 5th graders got to interact with TI robots, use basketballs equipped with TI chips to measure dribbling speed, analyze soil and air samples, and more.
Montana State University (MSU) provides a steady stream of student volunteers to lead STEM education and activities at kidsLINK Afterschool, a program of Greater Gallatin United Way. Students from the school’s education, nursing, nutrition, or agricultural departments are having a ball teaching youngsters about the subjects they love.
Even a couple of hours volunteering can make a difference. GE, Sierra Nevada Journeys and United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra have launched a pilot program that combines STEM education with literacy education to develop grade-level, non-fiction reading skills.
Of course, teaching STEM is just one of many ways you can help prepare the next generation for the careers of tomorrow. We encourage you to reach out to United Way in your community and find out about volunteer opportunities. The difference you make in a young person’s life during National Volunteer Week will benefit them for years to come.