GALVESTON, Texas (March 12, 2014) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District earned a Communitas Award in the Making a Difference Category for its Corps in the Classroom: Building Tomorrow's Leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Community Relations Program – an aggressive community outreach and social media campaign to spark students’ interest in STEM subjects, help counter stereotypes and increase participation of underrepresented groups in STEM careers.
With 19 percent of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 36,600 workforce qualifying for immediate retirement and 22 percent for early retirement, the world’s largest public engineering firm struggles with recruiting from a shrinking pool of graduates who are critical to mission success.
“To address this growing problem, the district launched a campaign that garnered support from nationally-recognized partners including leading STEM organizations, higher education institutions and even NASA,” said Col. Richard Pannell, USACE Galveston District commander. “The campaign raised students’ interest in STEM careers, engaged millions in targeted demographics, increased output by 75 percent, awareness by 214 percent and engagement by 316 percent.”
Operating with a budget of less than $400 (for printing, graphic design, promotional materials and equipment) staff employed a three-prong strategy to target key demographics to assist in promoting the pursuit of STEM careers among students by recruiting, developing and retaining STEM professionals; collaboration with partners and leveraging support from STEM professionals. The campaign plan focused on partnering with key influencers to strengthen STEM-related programs that inspire students to pursue careers in STEM and help close the performance gap in underrepresented students’ STEM educational achievements.
According to Pannell, coordinated efforts enabled the district to achieve many firsts and reach its goals of supporting the Department of the Army’s strategic engagement intent of understanding and engaging key stakeholders in order to build relationships, promote transparency, increase commitment and call to action to encourage community participation and bring about awareness of Corps and Army programs.
“It’s a great achievement to be recognized by an organization that is dedicated to acknowledging community service and social responsibility,” said Pannell. “Staff leveraged resources through partnering to increase awareness, interest and excitement in STEM-related education and careers among the nation’s youth.”
The Communitas Awards is an international effort to recognize exceptional businesses, organizations and individuals who are unselfishly giving of themselves and their resources, and those who are changing how they do business to benefit their communities. Nominees are evaluated on the extent and effectiveness of their efforts. Communitas is a Latin word that means people coming together for the good of a community. Communitas is inspired by the vision of a better world and is an attempt to do something about it through volunteerism, investment and ethical, sustainable business practices.
To learn more about the Communitas Awards, visit www.communitasawards.com. For more news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.