Young Minds Get Inspired
Raytheon and Boys and Girls Clubs of America team up to open 20 Centers of Innovation
Chrissandra Jackson used to think college wasn’t an option for her. Now she’s studying neuroscience at American University in Washington, District of Columbia.
Her perspective began to shift when Jackson, whose father serves in the U.S. Army, became more involved with Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She took an introduction to engineering class at a Club in Texas and then went on to coach younger students building solar-powered cars and submarines in Maryland.
“Working at my local Club gave me the chance to teach other kids that science and technology careers are possible,” she says. “I realized that if I was saying they could do better and go to college, then I could believe that for myself too.”
Raytheon wants to ensure even more military children like Jackson grow up with the social, emotional and educational support they need — no matter where they go. We’re helping BGCA open 20 Centers of Innovation as part of a $10 million pledge to fund education initiatives for service members and their families from 2015 to 2020. Our work with BGCA is part of a broader commitment to promote science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — education worldwide.
Working at my local Club gave me the chance to teach other kids that science and technology careers are possible. – Chrissandra Jackson, Boys & Girls Club volunteer
Located near U.S. military installations in U.S. cities and select locations around the globe, the Centers of Innovation provide access to technology and mentors — including Raytheon employees — who focus on STEM skills. Young people can create objects with 3-D printing, reach out to friends and family through videoconferencing, learn how to run a business, and collaborate on projects to improve their communities.
“Raytheon is helping us make a tremendous difference for military-connected families,” says Terrill D. McFarland, BGCA national vice president of Military & Outreach Services. “Now, we have programs that help military kids build STEM skills, become more confident and resilient, and prepare for careers. Their lives are better because of that support.”
Focus on STEM
Expanding STEM education opportunities is at the core of Raytheon’s efforts to support local communities. We sponsor U.S.-based programs, such as Engineers Week®, Girl Day and Pi Day, that encourage students to explore careers in STEM fields.
In Australia, we partner with Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra, to create interactive experiences that build interest in STEM. For example, Innovation Factory lets kids investigate basic mechanical tools by turning cranks, pushing buttons and pulling levers.
In the United Kingdom, student teams in the Quadcopter Challenge build and fly a four-bladed, multi-rotor drone through an obstacle course with guidance from Raytheon.
We also focus on building the talents and passion of teachers to move STEM forward. In 2015, we recognized 25 standout educators, with each receiving a $2,500 award and a matching grant for his or her school to support progressive math education.
Through programs like Engineering is Elementary®, an award-winning curriculum developed at the Museum of Science in Boston, Raytheon provides materials and training for educators to create hands-on lessons in engineering concepts. We also committed $2 million over five years to help teachers from Texas to Colorado to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia develop the next generation of engineering problem solvers.
The impact shows in communities such as Washington, where the District of Columbia Public Schools has expanded Engineering is Elementary citywide.
“Raytheon’s infusion of funding allowed the district to try out this program and see how well it worked with students,” says Christine Cunningham, founder and director of Engineering is Elementary and vice president of the Museum of Science. “Raytheon has helped us go national and reach over 10 million kids and 108,000 teachers so far.”