Colorado Education Initiative and Xcel Energy Partner to Engage More Students in STEM

April 2, 2014

February 27, 2014

DENVER, CO – The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) and Xcel Energy employees engaged today in an Xcel Energy Career Speed Mentoring event with Advanced Placement (AP) students at ArvadaHigh School about careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The AP students are participating in CEI’s Colorado Legacy Schools initiative. The Xcel Energy employees are volunteers with CEI’s STEM Mentor Program, which gained increased momentum last September thanks to a $25,000 contribution from Xcel Energy.

The STEM Mentor Program recruits Xcel Energy employees who contribute their expertise and time to help students better understand how their AP coursework is relevant to the real world. The Xcel Energy employees also shared their own stories about their personal pathways to STEM careers.

“Xcel Energy’s support for the STEM Mentor Program is helping to better prepare students for post-secondary success in Colorado’s rapidly growing STEM fields,” says Dr. Helayne Jones, President and CEO of the Colorado Legacy Education Initiative “The ultimate goal of our STEM Mentor Program is to help students make the connection between success in AP courses and STEM careers.”

At today’s Xcel Energy Career Speed Mentoring event, AP students at ArvadaHigh School led quick and informal interviews with more than 20 Xcel Energy employees and other local STEM professionals. The event gave students real time feedback on questions related to success in STEM-related internships, careers, vocational programs and options for post-secondary education. The STEM mentors shared personal insights about what it takes to succeed in STEM careers and demonstrated the value of skills developed through AP coursework such as increased confidence, time management, and critical thinking.

“The Colorado Education Initiative is an important partner of ours and we appreciate its innovative efforts to help train and support our future workforce and to help make a Positive Effect in our communities,” says David Eves, President and CEO of Public Service Company of Colorado. ”The STEM program is in a unique position to attract folks who might be interested in these fields and hopefully our mentors can help these students reach their greater potential, which benefits all of us.”

Throughout the school year, STEM mentors from a variety of companies will work with small groups of students to develop their understanding of – and motivation to pursue – STEM careers. Mentors will talk with students at Colorado Legacy School events; provide opportunities for students to observe STEM careers firsthand; and collaborate with AP teachers to host motivational AP breakfasts on the AP exam day. The Xcel Energy STEM mentors also will sponsor a renewable resources field trip in April to the Ponnequin Wind Farm in Northern Colorado. These events help deepen the connections between AP students and STEM mentors, and, over time, position mentors as trusted career advisors to the students.

The Colorado Legacy Schools initiative supports students in both geographically and demographically diverse schools to increase accessibility and success in rigorous math, science, and English AP courses. The initiative provides funding for extensive teacher training, student exam fees, classroom equipment and supplies, awards for those who excel, and extra time on task for students during Saturday study sessions.

To learn more about the STEM Mentor Program, please click here.