Minority Male Maker is a two-year program created by Verizon and launched this month at Kentucky State University with a $400,000 Verizon Foundation grant.
The program seeks to empower a new generation of minority men by giving them lifelong technology and entrepreneurship skills to build future innovations and create brighter futures for themselves and their families.
Kentucky State University is one of just four leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBUs) in the nation housing this program, instructing the students daily during intensive, all-day technology classes on campus this summer.
The program also has been launched at Morgan State University this month. Participants are also being mentored by minority college men, in collaboration with the National CARES Mentoring Movement.
Minority males are severely underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, according to the National Science Foundation. They also are less likely than their Caucasian peers to graduate from high school in four years, according to The Shott Foundation, or to pursue college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
While much attention has been paid in recent years to empowering girls in these subject areas, very few programs exist that specifically work with boys to spark their interest in STEM disciplines.
Students are participating in all-day workshops at Kentucky State University for four to five days a week from July 6-24, 2015.
The curriculum in each HCBU location is unique and includes skills such as collaboration, presentation making, entrepreneurship, critical thinking, problem solving and a range of STEM disciplines including app design and development, 3D modeling, design and printing and robotics.
Each participant will create a simple game through instructor guidance, create a model to ‘manufacture’ on a 3-D printer, and brainstorm ways in which their game and model can be commercialized.
During the 2015-2016 school year, the students will participate in additional sessions once to twice a month that will include mentoring and support in their academic progress.
The impacts of the program will be measured by a combination of surveys conducted with the students at various stages during the program. Changes in students’ academic performances will also be tracked.