How ON Semiconductor is Bridging the Higher Education and Opportunity Gap
ON Semiconductor promotes and is a proud supporter of inclusive higher education, as it helps develop the skills and talents of society. With greater knowledge and connections, college-educated citizens help contribute to a robust workforce and healthier community. However, a higher education and opportunity gap is evident in the United States, as low-income youth face greater difficulties in pursuing, financing and completing educational goals beyond high school. This results in unequal access to the opportunities that come with pursuing post-secondary programs – higher income, enhanced knowledge and greater job satisfaction – and systematically reinforces class inequality. Gratefully, there are many actors and groups working to empower underserved youth and their families on the pathway to post-secondary attainment, and we were happy to support one organization working with a unique strategy to do so.
In 2019, ON Semiconductor’s global giving program awarded a grant to the United Way of Southeastern Idaho (UWSEI) to assist in their Cradle to Career initiative. Cradle to Career works to improve the educational post-secondary outcomes in Southeast Idaho. Data shows that the Southeast Idaho region has a low percentage of the adult population with an associate degree or higher compared to national and state averages. By recognizing a need to communicate the importance of continuing education past high school, the organization spearheaded a community wide marketing and public relations campaign focused on educating parents and students about career pathways and the benefits that come along with it. With an array of initiatives including digital advertisements on social media and career exploration videos, positive outcomes resulted in millions of ad views among 6th-12th graders and 56 parents and students completing a “lead form,” which outlines direct action steps to take to pursue post-secondary options.
The grant monies also helped to fund an online STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) summer camp in 2020, which engaged 5th-12th graders in 14 courses ranging from python programming to rocketry to women in STEM. Hosted through the Idaho State University College of Technology, 162 students enrolled for the summer, with 66 of them coming from underserved backgrounds.
Participating students described their favorite aspect of the camp:
“Getting an electronics kit that I get to keep along with soldering iron and other tools.”
“Interacting [online] really helped me learn a lot, so I liked that. Also, I liked how you get to build a simple game, makes me more excited about coding.”
Especially during times like these, it is vital to continue keeping young people engaged and curious through interactive STEM activities like those at the camp. These opportunities also introduce new concepts and career pathways into STEM to students who were unaware of them before.
An overall focus of enriching the talent pipeline aims to improve economic competitiveness along with social well-being across the region of Southeastern Idaho. By influencing community attitudes and expectations around post-secondary educational attainment, the program hopes to create a culture shift among parents and students. Partnerships with high schools and local colleges and universities also help to develop a supportive network for those reaching for higher opportunities.
With the informed citizens, better health, greater job satisfaction and wage benefits that come with higher rates of post-secondary school completion, ON Semiconductor believes the United Way of Southeastern Idaho is playing a vital role in the local community. The organization hopes to continue this success as the program continues, and further strengthen the Cradle to Career pathway for a population in need.
For more information about ON Semiconductor Foundation and its dedicated community grant making efforts, visit https://www.onsemi.com/about/foundation