DirectEmployers Association Launches Nonprofit Organization Preparing Central Indiana Students for STEM Careers
INDIANAPOLIS, February 18, 2015 – In an effort to close the gap between the increased demand in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related jobs in Indiana and the lack of students prepared for those jobs, DirectEmployers Association has launched DirectEmployers Foundation, a nonprofit organization that enables middle and high school students to explore STEM careers with Central Indiana employers. With a focus on serving Central Indiana students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged due to underrepresentation or disabilities, the foundation’s mission is to inspire and prepare the next generation to meet the needs of a more diverse global workforce. This mission involves bringing a simulated workplace environment directly to students in state-of-the-art, project-based STEM Learning Labs and through local workplace learning programs.
“We started DirectEmployers Foundation as a way to create a more diversified STEM workforce in Central Indiana,” commented Bill Warren, Executive Director, DirectEmployers Association. “By providing opportunities for our employer partners to show at-risk students what it’s really like to work day-to-day in a STEM career, we believe that those students will pursue such a major in college and eventually work for a local STEM employer, earning high wages in high skill jobs.”
DirectEmployers Foundation offers engaging learning opportunities for students in grades 8-12 in its Learning Labs that simulate the workplace environment of partner employers to support STEM fields and business practices. A Learning Lab contains actual workplace equipment and replicates the corporate culture and business practices from a partner employer and can be located anywhere it is needed in Central Indiana, including schools, community centers, and flexible spaces. Learning Labs focus on career pathways, such as life sciences, engineering and design, physical sciences, manufacturing, information technology, and logistics.
The DirectEmployers Foundation STEM Employer-in-Residence Program enables STEM professionals from a partnering business to conduct their actual daily work activities in a dedicated space on a school campus. This program offers students the rare opportunity to gain valuable career readiness skills while working side-by-side with STEM professionals in their school environment. Employers-in-Residence also help teachers augment their lesson plans to include project-based STEM learning activities. In addition, Employers-in-Residence coach school counselors on ways to prepare students for STEM college and career opportunities.
An important part of the organization’s mission is to arrange for local employers to provide one-day to one-week job shadowing opportunities, predominantly for students in grades 8-10, and one to two semester-long internship experiences for students in grades 11 and 12. According to Simone Murray, DirectEmployers Foundation Executive Director, “We work diligently to find the right match between student and employer and will provide all the necessary documentation to support the match, including application forms, workplace job descriptions, and program evaluations.” She added, “We also provide coaching for employers on how to communicate with program youth and ways to make work-based learning a meaningful experience for both the student and the employer.”
This summer, DirectEmployers Foundation is offering STEM YES!–a two-week intensive summer program for low-income, underrepresented students in grades 10-12 to explore STEM careers in work-based environments. From July 13-24, students will attend workshops on marketing, finance, business development, research and product development, information technology and human resources, all led by business professionals. In addition, STEM YES! students will participate in hands-on learning in the workplaces of partnering employers including Eli Lilly and Company, Duke Realty Corporation, Salesforce and Charles Schwab.
At its first board meeting, Salesforce’s John D. Rice was elected to serve as the DirectEmployers Foundation board president. BethAnn Weaver of Eli Lilly and Company was elected vice president, and attorney Miriam Robeson was elected secretary-treasurer. Other board members include Bill Warren, DirectEmployers Association; Simone Murray, DirectEmployers Foundation; Dionne Cross Francis, Ph.D., Indiana University; Preston J. Edwards Diversity Employers Magazine; Michelle Shea, Charles Schwab; and Jeff Caplinger, Chris Ferguson and Peter D. Harrington, of Duke Realty.
Employers, educators, and students interested in becoming involved with DirectEmployers Foundation’s programs may contact Simone Murray at 317-874-9047 or firstname.lastname@example.org.