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USDA Holds Cross-Departmental Discussion to Encourage Mentoring and STEM Literacy

National CARES Mentoring Movement founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence magazine, Susan Taylor (red coat), met for a cross-departmental discussion with Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy personnel in the Whitten Building, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 28, 2012.  This not-for-profit organization is dedicated to recruiting and connecting mentors with local youth and mentoring organizations to help guide under-resourced children to academic and social success across the country. This discussion provided a continuation of the White House Policy in Action conference that took place in November 2011.  The focus of the discussion was about how existing federal programs and administration priorities can be leveraged with her organization, especially as it relates to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy, education and rural youth.  USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

National CARES Mentoring Movement founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence magazine, Susan Taylor (red coat), met for a cross-departmental discussion with Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy personnel in the Whitten Building, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 28, 2012. This not-for-profit organization is dedicated to recruiting and connecting mentors with local youth and mentoring organizations to help guide under-resourced children to academic and social success across the country. This discussion provided a continuation of the White House Policy in Action conference that took place in November 2011. The focus of the discussion was about how existing federal programs and administration priorities can be leveraged with her organization, especially as it relates to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy, education and rural youth. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture held a cross-departmental discussion focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy with Susan Taylor of the National CARES Mentoring Network. Susan Taylor, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Essence magazine, founded the National CARES Mentoring Network while spending time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  While in New Orleans, Susan said that she learned that over 50% of African American fourth graders are functionally illiterate. Susan came to USDA to explain the need for literacy training and other academic enrichment support for under-resourced children in low-income families in order to help students develop a broad range of 21st century literacy skills.

During the discussion, individuals representing various federal agencies and stakeholder groups discussed ways in which existing programs and initiatives that have a youth or STEM component could be leveraged with National CARES Mentoring Network to increase STEM literacy of under-resourced youth. The discussion included agricultural science opportunities offered through USDA like the 1890’s Scholars Program, Ag In the Classroom and our work with 4-H.  The Summer Jobs+ initiative offered by the Department of Labor and various study abroad programs offered through the Department of State were also mentioned.

Both USDA’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Joe Leonard and  Department of Education Deputy Assistant Secretary Jim Shelton closed the discussion by stating that it will take all levels of government, companies, foundations and non-profits, working together in partnership, to prepare America’s youth to compete for the jobs of the 21st Century.  This commitment will help provide access to and support excellence in STEM education, allowing us to out-educate and out-innovate our global competitors.

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