Inspiring the future
Raytheon, Boys and Girls Clubs open new STEM centers for military youth
Like magnets, they were drawn to their futures.
A ribbon was cut and more than 100 military youth, aged 7 to 17, dashed in to build their own comets out of dry ice, share ideas and test their creativity on a 3D printer.
The occasion: the opening of Raytheon’s newest Center of Innovation, a facility designed to inspire military youth to pursue science, technology, engineering and math, the subjects collectively known as STEM. Located at the Boys and Girls Clubhouse in Tucson, Arizona, the COI is one of 14 in the U.S. and Germany, including new centers at the Kirtland Air Force Base Youth Center in New Mexico and the Hale Pono Ewa Beach Clubhouse in Hawaii.
“We are in a position, through our STEM COIs, to give kids the skills, talents, passion and drive to go into those fields and not be afraid because of lack of knowledge," said Nikieia Johnson, director at the Holmes Tuttle Clubhouse.
Mentorship helps to bring STEM subjects to young men and women, so COIs are located near Raytheon facilities, where company volunteers can offer career guidance to members.
That was Johnson's experience. As a young girl, she said, she grew up in Boys and Girls Clubhouses of America. They became her home away from home.
“I actually used to be really shy,” said Johnson, who has spent the last 15 years giving back to youth across the country in various roles. “It wasn’t until I started attending Boys and Girls Clubs regularly that I came out of my shell.”
The new centers form the latest expression of Raytheon’s $10 million pledge to support military families and veterans. They help to instill confidence in military-connected youth and provide them with access to resources they may not have otherwise.
“We’re equipping these kids with all the tools they need to make them globally competitive,” Johnson said. “And that will make them 21st century leaders.”