Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Local Girl Scouts and AT&T Unite to Advance Underserved High School Girls in Science and Engineering

Pictured: Margaret Ritchie, GSNCA VP of Resource Development; 
Terri Gualano AT&T Alabama; and Trish Coghlan, CEO of GSNCA.
BIRMINGHAM--As minority students and women are gravitating away from science and engineering toward other professions, and employment in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields are increasing at a faster pace than in non-STEM fields, educational experts say the U.S. must increase proficiency and interest in these areas to compete in the global economy. Today, the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama (GSNCA) and AT&T announced a new program to help 500 Birmingham and Huntsville high school girls gain interest in STEM classes and future careers.

The local initiative, called “IMAGINE Yourself, Alabama,” is funded through an AT&T Aspire contribution designed to expose young women to a variety of career options in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

The Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama will receive a $45,000 grant to conduct the program from November 2011 through summer 2012 and is one of 18 councils, selected through a national competitive grant process, to participate.

“We have some of the most promising young women eager to learn and make a positive impact in both their personal lives and future careers, said Trish Coghlan, chief executive officer of GSNCA. “AT&T’s contribution enables us to expand our focus to help them explore educational and workforce options.”

“IMAGINE Yourself, Alabama” program offers opportunities for high school girls to team up with AT&T employees and other volunteers to participate in interactive activities and visual experiments, such as extracting DNA from a banana. These activities are designed to help students imagine a future STEM career and spark interest in taking additional STEM courses in high school and college, while opening doors to new career options.

Experts say the country’s need for a world-leading STEM workforce will continue to grow. Recent research from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce predicts 2.8 million STEM job openings by 2018, including 1.2 million new jobs and an additional 1.6 million replacement openings.

“The STEM disciplines are at the heart our business and we understand how essential they are becoming to every business and the growth of our economy,” Terri Gualano, Regional Director of Legislative and External Affairs for AT&T Alabama. “We are committed to helping teens succeed and are excited that Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama has been selected to participate in this program and will help these young women develop more skills to enjoy productive and rewarding careers.”

The contribution was made through AT&T Aspire, a $100 million commitment with the goal of helping students achieve their best possible futures. Launched in 2008, AT&T Aspire is one of the largest-ever corporate commitments to address high school success leading to college and career readiness.

As an additional contribution, AT&T will match employee gifts to the Girl Scouts up to $500,000 until December 31, 2011.