Brooklyn, New York – The stem of a plant is its fundamental support system.
In economics, "STEM" is an acronym used to shorthand the science, technology, engineering and math sector, which is where a large part of the future job growth in the U.S. is expected to come.
Do minorities in the U.S. have the necessary STEM support?
Latinos and African-Americans currently make up 13 percent of the workforce in the United States. Of that number, only 3 percent are involved in STEM careers. And although there are currently about 4 million unfilled jobs, many minorities do not have the skills and training to succeed in these fields.
The Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Leaders on the Fast Track (LOFT) program has connected with Google and the educational organization, Practice Makes Perfect, to help summer school students develop useful skills in STEM fields. All three organizations were on hand last week at Brooklyn’s Intermediate School 392.
“We’re trying to help inner city youth and this is exactly our target audience,” said Santiago Amieva, program manager for the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.
Before the sponsoring organizations had even introduced themselves, a student raised his hand with a question for the Google representative. Chief Programming Officer of Practice Makes Perfect, Brandon Espinosa, couldn’t help but smile at the fact these students were already engaged.
“What we’re trying to create is a summer school replacement model across the United States," Espinosa told Fox News Latino. "Our summer school model is broken – everyone knows it.”
Brooklyn’s Deputy Borough President, Diana Reyna, spoke to the students. She told them that changing the statistics of how many African-American and Latinos are in the work force is an ongoing struggle. “This is never a one-time affair; we’re here for the long haul; and we have to make sure that we honor that commitment,” Reyna said.
The students then went into the computer lab where they worked with Google representatives to learn about computer coding, a skill that many companies are looking for. Beyond having the students learn the rudiments of programming, the organizers are hoping to spark a deeper interest in technology and to maybe boost the students' confidence that they, too, could one day work for a company like Google.
Brooklyn was just the first of many stops the LOFT program is making. The organizers also hope that in the process of lifting prospects for Latino and African-American kids, the country’s overall economic picture improves.