07-11-2019 · African-American Partnership

More than 300 people gather at technical college to discuss STEAM-related careers

By Nadia Pressley

More than 300 people gathered at Atlanta Technical College last month to celebrate and inform young African-American men about the endless possibilities of working in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) related careers.

The AAP Day of Service event brought together 139 young people to learn about topics from robots to tech, from Atlanta’s best and brightest companies thanks to United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership (AAP).

AAP is a group of donors who all share a common passion in philanthropy. Their goal is to engage underrepresented members in United Way of Greater Atlanta’s 13-county region through volunteerism, networking, advocacy and professional development.

AAP members and prospective members were paired with students for the Day of Service to foster a mentorship between the two. AAP Director Bryan Vinson said this event is the perfect way to show members “a slice of what their investment looks like.”

Students participated in two career-based, STEAM workshops followed by a career fair with over 20 companies including Delta Air Lines and The Coca-Cola Company.

“The motivation behind our investment in these students is to get them excited about academics, excited about learning, to broaden their perspective on what their futures could be in terms of career, college, whatever their next steps are,” Vinson said.

Among the workshop presenters was Christopher Jones, production artist in the Marketing and Communications Department at United Way. Jones hosted a workshop called, “Design Your World” to expose students to careers in design.

“I enjoy interacting with students and sharing information about what I do as a career because I know that there are not a lot of examples that they can look to,” Jones said. “Even if a student decides to pursue a different path, I feel as if I’ve done my part if I’ve at least helped them to see that there are options beyond what they may have seen or considered before. The sky is the limit and I hope to inspire the next generation to aim higher.”

A 12th-grade student who attended the Day of Service “loved the interaction between the mentors and mentees.” They appreciated how presenters were open and honest and let them “know there will be challenges, but we all have the strength to overcome those challenges.”

Another eighth-grade student enjoyed having “African Americans in my groups,” and they found the event “really inspiring.”

Vinson said, through the Powering the Potential of African-American boys and young men investments, a campaign that pushes academic achievement, the group has raised more than $500,000 that they use to invest in seven different after-school programs across the Atlanta area, focusing mainly in zones where the Child Well-Being scores are the lowest. This event helped shine a light on just a little of what they do daily during the school year through their after-school programs.

Vinson said the event fosters a special connection between donors and students — each of the students received robotics kits from United Way at the end of the event.

“These are sort of two symbiotic groups who need each other. Our AAP donors are senior level African American professionals from a wide group of companies and industries,” Vinson said. “Why not expose them to these youth in need so that they can see people who look like them doing careers they have never even dreamed of?”

“It’s bringing these two groups together and letting them benefit from their time together.”

To learn more about AAP, visit unitedwayatlanta.org, or email bvinson@unitedwayatlanta.org.