Last Updated: 09/25/2013*
In a sprawling campus of laboratories and offices in northern Massachusetts, Raytheon engineers work on some of the defense industry's most difficult technical problems. But on a recent afternoon, many were putting in time on a much more personal project.
In a cafeteria on the second floor, dozens of employees bent over tables, helping local students prepare for Massachusetts' graduation exams. Others were coaching youths in English or working science problems.
The Tuesday "Stand & Deliver" mentoring sessions in Tewksbury, Mass., are part of Raytheon's nationwide effort to help students by pairing them with some of the world's foremost engineers and business leaders. In Massachusetts, 76 percent of students in the Stand & Deliver program reported better grades, and 59 percent said they were more interested in school.
Reading, writing and arithmetic. Just some of the many subjects that Raytheon employees help teach local students as part of the Stand & Deliver mentoring program.
"After my first year in Stand & Deliver, I realized how important you can be to someone's education," said Jahicol Baralt, who graduated from the program in 2013.
The Stand & Deliver program is affiliated with Family Services of the Merrimack Valley, a non-profit organization. Raytheon employees mentor about 100 middle and high school students from nearby Lawrence, Mass.
In addition to tutoring, students get to visit factories and laboratories where Raytheon builds some of the world's most advanced technology, including the Patriot air and missile defense system and the AN/TPY-2 radar.
The opportunity to visit Raytheon has been one of the biggest draws for students, said Terri Munson, Raytheon's Stand & Deliver coordinator.
"When the program was first introduced to Raytheon in 2004, there was a high rate of 'no shows' on the part of the kids," Munson said.
So the program started busing students from Lawrence schools to Raytheon's research and design offices. That proved to be the key to the program's success, Munson said.
"The environment is an education in itself," she said."They show up with smiles on their faces ready to work with their mentor."
And the employees do more than just help with homework. The group goes kite-flying, celebrates Pi Day on March 14 and works on college applications together. Some students even sing the National Anthem at a Red Sox game each year.
Members of the Stand & Deliver mentoring program sing the national anthem at Fenway Park in Boston before the start of a major league baseball game.
Volunteer Javier Alvarado Jr., an engineer on the AN/TPY-2 missile defense radar program, said he hopes he can serve as a role model and inspire students to pursue any career.
"I've learned that my mentees truly appreciate having someone that is not a teacher, parent or older sibling offer them encouragement," Alvarado said.
Indeed, many graduates of the program become mentors themselves.
Baralt decided to start tutoring 9th graders in his high school as a way of "paying forward" what he learned as a student in Stand & Deliver.
"It feels good knowing that you have someone out there encouraging and pushing you to the limit beyond your expectations," he said.
|Students learn firsthand about the science behind flying kites.|
Another Stand & Deliver alumnus, Josh Maldonado, is now a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student and has taught SAT preparatory classes to younger students. He just completed an internship at Raytheon.
"I am an example for these students of what possibilities are opened if they choose to be mature and work hard for what they desire," Maldonado said.
Like Maldonado, some of the students go on to intern at Raytheon. The company recently made its first job offer to a Stand & Deliver graduate. He'll start in June after his college graduation.
You can learn more about Raytheon’s education efforts here.
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By The Numbers
Each school year, Stand & Deliver surveys its participants. Ninety-one students from Lawrence, Mass. in grades 7-12 completed this year’s survey.
- 59% of participants said their interest in school has gone up
- 74% of students said their desire to learn new things has increased
- 76% of students said their grades improved
- 86% of students said their confidence in their school work has increased
- 99% of students picture themselves attending college one day
- 100% of English language learners said their English has improved