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Digital Equity

Comcast NBCUniversal Awards Steppingstone Scholars $100,000 Grant in Support of 'Inveniam', a first-of-its-kind STEM Equity and Innovation Lab

Philadelphia, PA

Comcast's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion logoSteppingstone Scholars (Steppingstone) today announced that it is the recipient of a $100,000 grant from Comcast NBCUniversal in support of Inveniam, a new, first of its kind STEM Equity and Innovation Lab, which it launched in October 2020 in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (Penn Engineering). Inveniam provides STEM-based pre-college preparatory programming and opportunities to K-12 students in the School District of Philadelphia.

“Through Inveniam, we are expanding the career trajectory of low-income students of color,” said Dr. Sean E. Vereen, President of Steppingstone. “The School District of Philadelphia has an immense need for increased STEM education resources – a need that has serious long-term implications for the city if not met. Philadelphia ranks 7th among U.S. cities for growth in technology hiring but they are employing few people of color from the city itself.  The use and understanding of technology are driving the city’s economy and its jobs now – and in the future. If we are to cultivate home-grown talent and combat the systemic racism and poverty that has plagued our city for generations, we must create pathways for our communities to benefit from the innovation economy. When we have equal opportunity in our economy it will benefit all of us.  We are deeply grateful to Comcast for recognizing the value of Inveniam and investing in this work, which creates the critical opportunities and access for students to be part of that future.”

“As we look to the future of work, we know equipping students with digital skills is critical to their success in the changing economy,” said Dalila Wilson-Scott, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast. “Programs like Inveniam help bridge the opportunity divide and we are thrilled to partner with Steppingstone Scholars in creating equitable pathways to employment in tech.”

Two Inveniam initiatives are already underway:

  • Steppingstone leaders are working with Penn Engineering professors to develop a full-year Advanced Placement Computer Science online course that will begin in the Fall of 2021 for high school students. The course will enroll 3,000 students with supplemental classroom instruction provided by Penn Engineering graduate students through online content modules. The development of additional high-level math and physics courses is in process.
  • The Inveniam Internship and Placement Program launches in June 2021 with five venture-capital/wealth management firms providing internships for 10 students who have completed their junior year of college. The goal of this program, which Steppingstone aims to grow in future summers, is to create a path from college to career and socioeconomic mobility in this wealth generating industry, which historically, has had little diversity.
Programs like Inveniam help bridge the opportunity divide and we are thrilled to partner with Steppingstone Scholars in creating equitable pathways to employment in tech.
Dalila Wilson-Scott
Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast

Looking ahead, Inveniam will expand extracurricular programs for underserved students through Steppingstone’s Blended Learning Initiative. Currently, this program serves 70 students with college-level course content but through Inveniam, it will expand to 100 students by Summer 2022 with an engineering internship program for 10 high school students concurrently being added. A Data Science Scholars program, providing pre-college and career mentorship for 20 high school students, will launch in the Penn Engineering Data Science Building, slated for opening in 2024. 

This grant from Comcast NBCUniversal is part of the company’s commitment to advancing equity in the communities where its customers and employees live and work. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, on average 1.7% of students from the District took a Computer Science course per year from 2014 to 2017. That number dropped by half from 2016 to 2018, meaning that only 424 students out of nearly 50,000 students took a Computer Science course. Nationally only 44% of high school seniors will graduate from a high school that offers any computer science courses. And of these students who matriculate to college and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, only 8% are Black, 9% are Hispanic and 17% are women. 

For more information regarding Inveniam, please visit: www.steppingstonescholars.org/ventures.