As students return to school this fall, the US Minority Contractors Association (USMCA) has the future in mind as it strives to help students who focus on science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) to receive a quality education.
Take Michelle, for example. She attended high school in the southern suburbs of Chicago and really wanted to go to college to study psychology. However, without help, his dreams seemed very distant. She found the help she needed through the Barrington-based USMCA. Through her STEM Education Foundation, which partners with various high schools to provide scholarships, mentorship, and support to students on a STEM education journey, she has been able to reduce the financial burden on herself and her family.
With a mission to help students who are often underrepresented, USMCA develops relationships with many colleges and universities, with a particular focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Thanks to USMCA support, Michelle was able to attend Northern Illinois University, and the $1,000 renewable scholarship helped pay for tuition and supplies.
But financial support wasn’t all the group provided. When Michelle went through a tough time in her sophomore year, USMCA mentors supported her and helped her through it. Now a senior, she is considering a career in human resources with a degree in industrial organizational psychology.
Not so long ago, Michelle might have been one of the “hidden figures” in achieving quality education. But the 2016 Oscar-nominated film, which told the story of three brilliant African-American women at NASA whose genius in math, engineering and more helped the United States put a man on the moon, has inspired the USMCA to create its STEM Educational Foundation. to encourage and support young people like Michelle and to support students entering the trades. The dream was to provide scholarships for STEM education and colleges supporting technology, math, and science education. Given the shortage of qualified personnel in the construction trades, the program now includes these students as well.
To raise the necessary funds, they launched an annual super golf outing, “Swing for Scholarships”, held in 2022 on August 17 at Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Itasca. Eighty golfers, including former White Sox All-Star Carlos May, raised more than $25,000 (and counting).
“This event marked an important day in the history of the STEM Education Foundation,” said the Reverend Larry Bullock, USMCA Executive Director. “Funds raised this year will allow us to exceed our goal of 25 scholarships from the previous year and potentially exceed 35 scholarships in 2022. Additionally, we are intentional in our efforts to increase the participation of women and minorities. as beneficiaries. HBCUs will also be supported with money raised.”
The USMCA awards $500 STEM scholarships to middle and high schools and $1,000 scholarships to underserved minorities and women attending colleges and universities. All scholarships are renewable annually.
Hidden Numbers – No More
The USMCA STEM program helps advance access to STEM fields in targeted communities by using professional services and construction companies within the USMCA to provide opportunities that guide local youth toward pursuing degrees and careers. advanced careers, as well as preparing for careers in the trades, such as HVAC Maintenance, CDL Licensing and Automotive Mechanics.
“Most importantly,” says Reverend Bullock, “the STEM program inspires students to ask questions, identify challenges, explore new techniques, and create solutions in these disciplines.” He continued, “By providing internships to member companies in the construction industry and supporting the future workforce in the architectural, engineering and technology trades, as well as management of construction and future entrepreneurs, STEM is literally paying for the future!”
Bernie Held, USMCA secretary and chair of the scholarship committee at the STEM Education Foundation, recalled other scholars. “We supported nursing students at Purdue University-Northwest, as well as another young man from Humboldt Park, who was homeless and living in a group home, who wanted to be an auto mechanic.”
Companies Step Up STEM and USMCA Efforts
The event’s new co-sponsor McDonald’s USA supported the golf outing in 2022, along with FH Paschen, Wintrust Financial Corporation, CORE Construction Company, Ujamaa Construction Company, Infrastructure Energy Alternatives, Chase Bank Corp., US Architectural Metal and Glass Company, Operators International Union – Local 150, Trim Trucking Company, Providence Bank, Lend Lease Company, Bowa Construction Company, Sterling Bay LLC, ProCore Technologies Company and Vanderlande Corporation. FactFinders LLC won the day’s championship with a score of 58, led by Mr. Ken Webb, Sr, Captain; Runner up Team-WD Associates Co., with Mr. Lawrence Whitaker, captain, who scored 66 overall]; in third place, tied with 66 overall, was Penn Services, LLC, with Mr. John Wilson as team captain.
The purpose of USMCA is to provide unique professional, educational, technical, and advisory services to members and the community at large. We strive to provide the best possible consultancy services in the areas of construction, environment, building maintenance, architectural and engineering design, hospitality, training and general services. They serve as an advocacy agency for minority contractors and contractors through chapters located in twenty-two (22) states and growing.
For more information on membership and upcoming programs, visit the USMCA website at https://usminoritycontractors.org.