Building a better pipeline

Our support for a middle school education initiative is helping improve diversity in New York City’s specialist technical high schools. Mauri Myers-Solages, Corporate Citizenship Manager, takes up the story.

In New York City, we have several specialized high schools that focus on STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They’re public schools but students have to pass an entrance exam to get into them. In recent years, there’s been growing concern that these schools do not reflect the diversity of the community.

Brooklyn Technical High School is one example. As it happens, Ken Daly, National Grid’s president of New York Operations, is an alumnus. He and some fellow alumni wanted to improve the chances that under-represented children had of getting into Brooklyn Tech and similar schools. 

The entrance exam itself was not the problem – it was simply the fact that few girls or people from ethnic minorities took it.

Creating a pipeline 

The alumni talked about the issue and out of this conversation came the Middle School Pipeline program. It’s a partnership between National Grid, the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation and Brooklyn Technical High School. It gives selected middle school students an intensive five-week summer program, followed by entrance exam prep during the school year. 

We started the project in July 2013 as a four-year pilot. We weren’t sure what the interest would be and whether it would attract the right students. We needn’t have worried. Thirteen middle schools within New York City sent students to the first cohort. Twelve schools took part in the second year, each with at least two members in the second cohort. 

Funding from the state

We’re delighted with the way the program has grown. State legislators now support it as well. Thanks to new funding from the state, last summer’s incoming class had twice the numbers of the previous year. We went into this pipeline program hoping to broaden the application pool and that’s what’s happening. 

Although we help to fund the program, we stay away from the application process. It’s not about National Grid; it’s about the students and their efforts to achieve their ambitions. For us, it’s enough to know we’re helping move the needle.

Published: June 2017