Program bridges gap in gender, ethnicity

STEM youth summit inspires future of tech-industry

By Christian Urrutia, Photo Editor

A notable lack of diversity among young people in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields inspired the Richmond Community Foundation to focus its 6th annual Northern California Summit On Children and Youth on exactly that, closing the racial disparity divide.

Bridging the STEM diversity gap — technology and the next generation workforce event held by the Richmond Community Foundation designed a day where educators, community organizations, community leaders, elected officials and local area businesses could gather and share innovative approaches to this problem on April 30.

The summit took place at Richmond Auditorium and presented a wide array of events ranging from panels and seminars discussing research-driven models and the best practices and solutions for bridging the diversity gap for young men, and women, who are underrepresented in these emerging fields.

Chief development officer for the Richmond Community Foundation Stacy Street said the summits are based on issues or concerns for youth and family in creating opportunities and access for youth to prosper.

The Northern California Summit to fruition due to educational budget cuts in funding for services that support children, dating back to 2009.

This event is a joint effort in building these educational pathways where prior resources had diminished and left young people typically in high school in need of guidance toward successful opportunities.

“We like to have continuity of the previous year’s theme and this year we started to look for further options in these emerging fields of tech,” Street said.

Street said the community members involved want to make sure ethnically diverse young people are being positioned for jobs in the STEM-related disciplines.

“There is a abysmally low rate for Latino, African-Americans and women working in STEM (fields). Every other field out in the professional world is relying on STEM to progress and all the pathways presented encourage young people to collaborate with businesses,” Street said.

Street also said, “Our role is to network and bring people together, and the summit is key for the work we do and we’re hoping that can continue.”

“To come together and form creative solutions, that is really the goal of the summit along with exemplary leadership in the local community being displayed,” she said.