Published January 19, 2017
Volume 1, Number 1

YMCA of the East Bay Launches New Education Program

By Tina Hansen
Pulse Writer

The YMCA is known as a community hub that provides summer camps and after school activities for children and fitness programs for adults.

That conception, at least in the Easy Bay, is now expanding.

Last December, with a $75,000 grant from Bayer USA Foundation to the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, The YMCA of the East Bay launched its Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaborative Learning Labs (CIRCLe). The grant brings much needed resources to the East Bay community by offering learning opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) awareness and career access.
“The East Bay Economic Development Alliance is committed to rallying our member companies to be part of this face-to-face movement to demystify STEM careers and create the pool of talent that our employers are calling for," said Honorable Keith Carson, Chair, East Bay EDA and Supervisor, Alameda County.

CIRCLe Labs is an innovative effort to bring STEM in an after-school educational setting that goes beyond the classroom walls for children who do not have easy access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. These early learning tools offer children an opportunity to find the topics that interest them and give them more options for the future in both higher education and career paths.

At the December launch event at the YMCA of the East Bay, the community met history-making Astronaut Dr. Mae C. Jemison and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and students from the David E. Glover Education and Technology Center joined the Q&A session via video conference, offering a broader reach for students to gain access to these resources.

Dr. Jamison, the world's first African-American female astronaut in space, has been a driving force to increase awareness about STEM, as well as shaping the way science is taught in the United States. As part of her two-day tour of the Bay Area, she gave hands-on science demonstrations.

The YMCA of the USA was a recipient of a multi-year partnership announced by White House at the 2015 Science Fair called "Imagine Science." The goal of the initiative is to tackle the challenge of engaging underrepresented youth in STEM learning. The YMCA of the East Bay was selected to receive the grant as part of the second stage of the program.

"We are excited to be collaborating with our new partners as we open this CIRCLe Lab pilot site to provide crucial STEM learning to kids in our East Oakland community," said Don Lau, Interim President, and CEO of the YMCA of the East Bay.

The program will provide expert staff who will design STEM programs that best fit our children and community, which complements the Easy Bay YMCA mission statement of "building strong kids, families, and communities by promoting teaching honesty, caring, respect and responsibility."  They can now add teaching future scientists and engineers.

"One of the biggest gaps for low-income students is a simple lack of awareness of all the STEM work that surrounds them—of the jobs that pay well with only a year or two of post-secondary education, of the exciting work being done in the STEM fields including robotics, aeronautics, biotech, and alternative energy. CIRCLe Labs bring those professionals right into neighborhoods where children and families can learn informally and consistently about the opportunities open to them,” said Carson.

The partnership between The East Bay YMCA and East Bay Economic Development Alliance means addressing the challenges of education is a priority. Those wishing to add their support to the effort, among other things, can do so with a contribution to the Easy Bay YMCA which can be made through their web site: www.ymcaeastbay.org.

An additional opportunity to see the Tri-Valley YMCA in action is coming soon as they host the 17th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellowship Breakfast on January 23 from 7:30-9:30 am at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pleasanton at the Club. Additional details are also available on their web site: www.ymcaeastbay.org.