The #US2020CityNetwork is a group of nine city-based coalitions, including Indianapolis, born from US2020's 2014 City Competition. As a Network, we come together approximately twice a year to accelerate each other's work during what we call Convenings, which are 2-3 day gatherings where representatives from each city are able to meet in person to brainstorm ideas and challenges, receive updates from national partners, and recharge our momentum around increasing STEM mentoring.
We gathered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from December 8th through the 10th for our fourth convening as a group. Hosted by the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance, we started our first day with a brief US2020 State of the Network address and a discussion around our work as we look ahead to the 2016-2017 fiscal year, before moving on to the Fab Lab Tulsa for dinner and a hands-on STEM activity!
Fab Lab Tulsa is one of over 300 MIT-chartered Fab Labs in more than 50 countries and provides community access to advanced manufacturing and digital fabrication tools for learning skills, developing inventions, creating businesses, and producing personalized products. Nathan Pritchett, Executive Director of the Fab Lab Tulsa, turned us into digital fabricators for the night as we worked on laser-etching designs into "living hinge" notebooks. Our group's trip to the Fab Lab was even featured on the local news that night!
Day two featured paired discussions among city representatives regarding "blueprints" for how best to organize and present comparable information pertaining to each city, a question that many of our local coalitions have been asking about. We also had a conversation with the Schusterman Family Foundation around foundation giving, a diversity in action session to discuss diversity within our networks, and a deep dive on evaluation procedures, both from a national and local perspective. We ended the night with a team dinner at a local pub, where we were able to spend quality time catching up with friends we only see twice a year!
Our final day of the convening, we discussed co-funding opportunities, our continued work with AmeriCorps VISTA members, and the upcoming launch of the redesigned US2020 mentor matching platform. We also heard from Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr., after which he and representatives from the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance celebrated Tulsa's status as the first STEM Community in Oklahoma, as announced by Governor Mary Fallin. We closed over lunch with a presentation by Stephen McKeever, Oklahoma's Secretary of Science & Technology, regarding some alarming statistics about the extremely leaky STEM pipeline.
As always, the convening was a productive time of invigorating discussions that left us with a renewed energy around the STEM mentoring movement!