SISTEM one-on-one with Ms. Justina Nixon-Saintil, Director of Education Programs, Verizon Foundation: "A Look at The Verizon Minority Male Makers Program - Part 3 of The Minority Male Makers Program ISTG Special Feature".

 
  
 
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SISTEM one-on-one with Ms. Justina Nixon-Saintil, Director of Education Programs, Verizon Foundation: "A Look at The Verizon Minority Male Makers Program - Part 3 of The Minority Male Makers Program ISTG Special Feature".

Justina Nixon-Saintil

Ms. Justina Nixon-Saintil is the Verizon Foundation's Director of Education Programs.

Q: Can you please share a few words about Verizon's Minority Male Makers Program?

Nixon-Saintil: Verizon's Minority Male Makers is a unique, two-year program that is helping minority middle school boys receive hands-on learning experiences with advanced technology. The program introduces them to high-level skills - from coding to 3D-design – during an immersive summer camp, and continues throughout the academic year with Saturday workshops. The program exposes them to many of the exciting professional possibilities that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) can offer. Verizon and its Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) partners, Morgan State University, Jackson State University, Kentucky State University and North Carolina A&T State University, are giving middle school boys the promise of a brighter future.

Q: Tell us about the reasons behind Verizon's involvement and sponsorship of the Minority Male Makers Program?

Nixon-Saintil: Minority males are severely underrepresented in STEM fields1and are less likely than Caucasian peers to graduate from high school in four years2 and pursue college3. Verizon identified a need and created a new program to focus specifically on minority middle school boys. Verizon aims to be part of the solution by investing in the futures of African American men as early as middle school.

Q: What is the importance of collaborating with HBCU's in promoting STEM via this project?

Nixon-Saintil: Our HBCU partners understand the unique obstacles that young men of color face when navigating higher education, and specifically STEM fields. Their expertise and commitment to advancing minority representation in these subjects has been an invaluable resource to the execution of the Minority Male Makers program. Beyond reaching just individuals, by working with HBCUs, our program is connecting young men to college campuses and building stronger relationships between these colleges and their communities. By introducing more students and their families to the possibility of college, we hope the program will help foster a community environment where education, and specifically STEM education, is valued and encouraged as a means to achieving future success. Additionally, we are pairing minority middle school boys with college men across the four HBCUs who will serve as mentors and role models. These relationships are helping the young students envision what their own futures might look like and also enriching the educational experience for the college mentors.

Q: Finally, please tell us about the importance of such programs as the Verizon's Minority Male Makers Program in fostering and promoting STEM, innovation and entrepreneurship in general amongst historically disadvantaged groups in STEM.

Nixon-Saintil: Minority Male Makers has the potential to change the lives of hundreds of young men by opening their eyes to what their futures could look like with STEM. By investing in these students, taking the time to engage them in STEM subjects in a new way and exposing them to technologies and careers they might never have imagined, we hope to help help steer these boys toward the bright futures they deserve, with college and careers in technology fields with just three percent of African American men working as scientists and engineers4, the Minority Male Makers program’s goal is to help increase that number and empower a new generation of minority men by giving them lifelong creative thinking, problem solving, and entrepreneurial skills to build the innovations of tomorrow.

ISTG Note: To view The Verizon Minority Male Makers Program ISTG Special Features Part I (at Jackson State University) and Part II (at North Carolina A & T State University), please click on Part I & Part II.

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1National Science Foundation
2Schott Foundation
3U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Statistics
4National Science Foundation

 
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