Bringing Young People To Stem Professions
Takes Center Stage At This Year’s Urban Tech
May 15, 2013
“Women have traditionally been left behind,” said Pat Bransford, president of the nonprofit organization, The National Urban Technology Center. “We want to push women forward.
We need these careers for global leadership.” The careers she was referring to were in the STEM professions; the science, technology, the science, technology, engineering, and math jobs that are becoming more abundant as work in other areas has lessened. We stole a few moments with Bransford during the 18th annual fundraising gala for her organization Wednesday night,which included a performance by Vy Higgensen’s Gospel for Teens Choir, a silent auction, and a threecourse meal at Capitale in Manhattan. Awards were also handed out,
including a public service award for Judy Smith, founder of crisis communications firm Smith & Co and the inspiration behind the hit show Scandal. CBS news anchor Maurice DuBois and E! News’ Alicia Quarles were the MCs.
Before the evening could get underway, guests were greeted out front by a small band of protesters who were handing out fliers outlining the efforts by Walmart employees for higher wages and better working conditions. Specifically, the flier called out Christopher Williams, a gala chair, chairman and CEO of The Williams Capital Group, and a Walmart director. Walmart has recently said it will monitor more closely factories in Bangladesh that have workers toiling in unsafe conditions. And it faced shareholders who proposed measures that would increase pay for employees. The flier accused Williams of being “silent” as these and other issues arose.
“I facilitate the conversation between these parties,” Williams told MadameNoire Business when we approached him during the gala cocktail hour. He added that he has shared information he receives with Walmart. Back inside at the dinner, the focus was squarely on the work of helping young people progress and the supporters of the organization. Urban Tech has a flagship program, The Youth Leadership Academy, which creates a “e-learning platform and curriculum” to help a student further their education. The goal is to provide both educational and emotional support for young people as they gain STEM skills.
A lot of Urban Tech’s work is online, with music, journal writing, and Internet skills incorporated into the services they provide to students between the third and 12th grades. But Bransford also highlighted the need for mentors and role models, citing, for example, her mom and Shirley Jackson as personal examples. Jackson was the first African-American woman to get a PhD from MIT (in nuclear physics), is president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and was the first woman and African American to serve as chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, appointed in 1995 by President Clinton. “A woman can be CEO once you’ve got those STEM credentials,” Bransford told us. “And then we can bring the men.”
National Urban Technology Center Hosted
Its 18th Annual Gala
June 14, 2013
The National Urban Technology Center (Urban Tech), a national non-profit hosted its annual gala dinner in celebration of 18 years of successfully breaking down educational barriers and opening doors for disadvantaged youth in New York City and nationwide. Urban Tech transforms lives through the power of technology by giving youth the capacity for
positive behavior and
academic success. Urban Tech achieves its mission by teaching students essential life skills, and by training and coaching parents and educators to support social and emotional learning. Held at Capitale, a venue known for it’s lavish atmosphere, the event paid tribute to those leaders who have continued to support Urban Tech over the years throughout their commitment to community service and educational excellence. Among some of this year’s honorees included Judy A. Smith, founder and president of Smith & Company, a leading strategic and crisis communications firm. She is also the inspiration for ABC hit TV series, Scandal. She was presented the Public Service Award from her close and personal friend, Star Jones. Luis A. Ubiñas, the president of the Ford Foundation, the second largest philanthropy in the United States received the Humanitarian Award from actor, Hill Harper. The masters of ceremonies for the evening included Maurice DuBois of CBS 2 News and E! News Correspondent, Alicia Quarles. Notable guests included founder and president of Urban Tech, Pat Bransford; singer Deborah Cox; VH1 host, Sharon
Carpenter; Christopher J. Williams, CEO and founder of The William Capital Group and Valentino D. Carlotti, partner of Goldman, Sachs & Company. The evening also included an expansive live and silent auction. Over $58,000 was raised the night alone for the charity during dinner. Proceeds from this year’s gala will fund the growth of the organization and expansion of Urban Tech’s programs. Items from the silent auction included autographed vinyl albums from Kayne West’s The College Dropout and Late Registration, an eight day trip to Kenya and a full week on a waterfront luxury 4 bedroom home in Martha’s Vineyard. Items of the live auction included VIP tickets to Beyoncé’s The Mrs. Carter World Tour with dinner and luxury SUV transportation as well as Adopt a New York City Public School with Urban Tech’sYouth Leadership Academy (YLA). Highlighting the night was a bidding war ignited by Hill Harper over an opportunity to play basketball with Knicks legend John Starks, which finally went to a table from BTIG, a well-respected institutional trading firm. Entertaining the night were songs sung by powerful voices of The Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens Choir as well as mixed beats from DJ Mel DeBarge.