RTP Foundation opens new futures through mentors

May 29, 2014 

Big things are happening at the Research Triangle Park these days, with expansion, a new vision for the park’s future that will see imaginative development and a renewed energy. With all that going on, it might be easy to not give a grant won through the White House the attention it deserves.

But the Research Triangle Park Foundation applied for a won, along with six other communities, a share of a $1 million grant to steer mentors who have careers in science, technology, engineering and math to area students. For some of those students, connecting with a professional to give them some undivided attention is going to be a life-changing event.

Discovery Communications will do some training.

Bob Geolas, president and chief executive officer of the RTP Foundation, said his organization will help professionals from places such as BASF, Lord Corp., Cisco, Fidelity, Biogen Idec, Lenovo and Quintiles get together with schools and nonprofits in the area. “We’re going to serve as the matchmaker,” he said.

Obviously, there are a multitude of high-tech companies at RTP and elsewhere in the region, but it’s difficult to build a connection between people at those firms and school kids. The grant, won in a competition among 53 communities, will help.

There is a need in North Carolina for this kind of mentoring, with the state having a low ranking nationally among high school students when it comes to proficiency in physics and calculus. One mentoring program isn’t going to swing that number higher, but it might result in a very special connection for children who might otherwise fall by the wayside. Because one person, offering guidance and inspiration, can indeed make a difference. All the difference.

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