( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Organization Supports Minority Students in STEM Fields With Education and Scholarships
ENSPIRE Contributor: Abby Ladner
For 10 years, Future Kings has been supporting underserved communities with its STEM mentorship programs. Since its inception in 2011, Future Kings has helped young men develop their math and science skills, excel in their classes, and be better prepared to enter STEM majors in college or university. This year, the accomplishments of their students were celebrated with their 7th Annual Black History Month Gala, a fundraising event that encourages support for the organization.
This year’s event was held virtually on Feb. 20th and included speeches from current Future King students, video segments highlighting the organization’s programs, and a keynote address from Retired Major General Phillip M. Churn, Founder, CEO, and President of SYZYGY International. as well as music and dance performances. In addition to encouraging donations to the organization, the gala celebrated the achievements of current and former Future Kings participants with scholarship awards. Funds raised from the event are used to provide college scholarships to graduates of the Future Kings program to support their continued success in their education and careers in STEM.
Future Kings, based in Northern Virginia, was founded by Dr. Arik King to support STEM education for young Black and Hispanic men. The afterschool education program allows students in grades 6-12 to advance their studies in science, technology, engineering, and math while honing valuable skills to help them excel not only in the classroom but in their future careers as well. In the Future Kings program, students may specialize in cybersecurity, biomedical sciences, custom engineering, and computer game design and learn from experts in their chosen field. The mission of Future Kings is three-pronged: to shrink the opportunity gap for minorities in STEM, to help their students excel in the classroom, and to send STEM majors from underserved communities to colleges and universities each year. Their focus is on educating and supporting young men in STEM fields so that they may excel in their own lives and go on to be a positive influence in their communities.
The work of Future Kings is transformational not just for the individual students they mentor but for the entire industry of STEM as well. A 2019 study found that, while the number of people interested in pursuing a career in STEM is relatively even across racial demographics, there are significant barriers that make succeeding in STEM more difficult for Black and Latino students. Their research found that more than a third of Black (40%) and Latino (37%) students switch out of STEM majors before they receive their degree, a significantly larger percentage than the 29% of white STEM students who do the same. Even more alarming, the study found that, whereas only 13% of white STEM students leave school, 26% of Black and 20% of Latino STEM students drop out of college altogether. For many students, researchers believe, discrimination, financial difficulties, and worries about future employment are keeping Black and Latino students from continuing their pursuit of STEM. Future Kings works to solve these problems by giving their students the tools they need to enter college confident in their ability to succeed. Future Kings instills in their students a belief that they can excel in the STEM industry despite the challenges they might face and continues to support participants of their program beyond the day of their high school graduation.
The Future Kings Education Program is making a difference in the lives of young men in underserved communities by encouraging their pursuit of STEM. With scholarships, skill training, and expert mentorships, Future Kings promotes their students’ success at every step of the way. That success was celebrated at their 7th Annual Black History Month Gala, an event that showcases the hard work and innovation of the Future Kings organization with their adaptation to a virtual setting. To learn more about Future Kings, you can visit their website or keep up with them on Facebook. More information about their annual Black History Month Gala, including a recording of this year’s event, can be found here.