CoverMyMeds employees hand out COSI Connects Space Kits to kids on Halloween
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Investing in Education: Supporting the Next Generation of Innovators

By Kate Bauer2021-11-29
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One way to promote gender, racial and ethnic equality in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce is to improve access to quality education and encourage interest in related subjects at an early age. At CoverMyMeds, we support those efforts through strategic relationships with COSI, PAST Foundation and TECH CORPS.

Columbus City Schools is the largest school district in Ohio with 50,000 students enrolled in 112 schools — but did you know its inaugural building was erected in Franklinton in 1806,A History of Columbus Schools, 1806-1912, Teaching Columbus not far from where the CoverMyMeds campus is located today?

That’s right — the neighborhood we share has a rich history of supporting education, and CoverMyMeds is proud to continue that legacy by collaborating with organizations that promote STEM programming, including COSI, PAST Foundation and TECH CORPS.

The importance of STEM in Columbus City Schools

The median annual wage for STEM careers in 2020 was more than double that of non-STEM occupations — $89,780 compared to $40,020.Employment in STEM occupations, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sept. 8, 2021 Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted, “Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics occupations are projected to grow over two times faster than the total for all occupations in the next decade."Why computer occupations are behind strong STEM employment growth in the 2019–29 decade, Beyond the Numbers: Employment & Unemployment, Jan. 2021

Despite that exciting projection, other numbers aren’t so encouraging.

According to Pew Research, Black and Hispanic workers remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce, as do women specifically in the physical sciences, computing and engineering fields.STEM Jobs See Uneven Progress in Increasing Gender, Racial and Ethnic Diversity, Pew Research Center, April 1, 2021

Experts agree that one way to promote gender, racial and ethnic equality in STEM is to improve access to quality education and encourage interest in related subjects at an early age.

By focusing on students in Columbus City Schools — of which 52.9 percent are Black, 13.5 percent are Hispanic/Latino and 49 percent are femaleOverview of Columbus City School District, U.S. News & World Report — organizations including COSI, PAST Foundation and TECH CORPS are aiming to do exactly that.

A two-year collaboration with Franklinton’s COSI museum

CoverMyMeds originally announced its business partnership with COSI in 2019. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted some of our plans — namely, the ability to tutor K-12 students in-person. But despite restrictions, COSI and CoverMyMeds collaborated to hand out “Learning Lunchboxes” in November 2020 that contained activity books related to the human body’s immune system — a timely topic during the pandemic’s peak.

This year, COSI and CoverMyMeds continued that tradition on Oct. 29, 2021, with a trick-or-treat activity, during which they handed out candy and COSI Connect Space Kits to local kids. The kits included equipment to build a rocket, launch it and then land it safely with a parachute.

A self-proclaimed “nerd” and proud of it, Sara Santo, senior manager of culinary operations, represents CoverMyMeds on the COSI Community Board.Community Board, COSI

“My kitchen at home looks like a chemistry lab,” said Sara. “I’ve always loved science, and with STEM week in early November, we wanted to kick off the month with a fun Halloween activity that also fosters a love of learning.”

Speaking of Sara’s chemistry lab kitchen, she recently hosted a cooking class as part of COSI’s annual Science Festival, which took place virtually in May 2021.

“The class focused on food science and safety — we explored the Maillard reaction, the process of emulsification and why starchy pasta water thickens sauce,” Sara said. “Science can be intimidating, especially for kids — but everyone loves to eat. By promoting STEM through food science, you can make it fun.”

My kitchen at home looks like a chemistry lab... By promoting STEM through food science, you can make it fun.

Sara Santosenior manager of culinary operations at CoverMyMeds

Working with PAST and TECH CORPS to expand STEM support

In addition to our business partnership with COSI, CoverMyMeds also supports PAST Foundation — a nonprofit organization comprised of anthropologists, field and research scientists, museum curators and educators who are passionate about linking learning to life.

Through that collaboration, CoverMyMeds supports STEM opportunities for Columbus City Schools — specifically in Franklinton — and delivers after school Innovators Club programming to kids in grades five through eight. Of note, Innovators Club focuses on topics like coding, math, robotics and cybersecurity.

CoverMyMeds also recently teamed up with TECH CORPS, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all K-12 students have equal access to technology programs, resources and skills to enrich their education today and prepare them for college, credential or career tomorrow.

Currently, CoverMyMeds supports Techie Camp — a full day, week-long program designed to engage elementary and middle school students in hands-on, interactive STEM-related activities — and Techie Club — an informal educational program for elementary and middle school students to learn about a variety of computing topics and explore tech-related careers.

CoverMyMeds employees are role models for budding learners

Lauren Burke is a data scientist at CoverMyMeds, and a longtime TECH CORPS volunteer.

“I'm excited to see more initiatives dedicated to increasing the number of women in tech, especially in data science, where women hold just 18 percent of all roles,” Lauren said. “On a data team, diverse perspectives are incredibly beneficial since they bring new ideas and different ways to approach problems.”

To further promote women working in STEM, CoverMyMeds is also proud to support the STIR Scholarship — a scholarship for young women pursuing a degree in software. So far, we’ve made it possible for six women to get a jump start on their STEM careers in the past two years.

“It's so important that kids interested in tech interact with and learn from diverse role models,” Lauren said. “When kids see people who look like them and share their interests of succeeding in a field, it helps them picture themselves doing the same.”

I'm excited to see more initiatives dedicated to increasing the number of women in tech, especially in data science, where women hold just 18 percent of all roles.

Lauren Burkedata scientist at CoverMyMeds

Investing in a future of innovation for healthcare and beyond

As a healthcare technology company, CoverMyMeds has witnessed the real impacts and advancements that STEM professionals make on industries that ultimately change lives for the better. And as part of our commitment to the Columbus community that we love so much, our employees are passionate about promoting STEM education in our local schools — specifically Region 1.

A company is only as good as its employees, and who knows — maybe our next great software engineer or data scientist is sitting in eighth grade right now. All they need is a little encouragement. We’re committed to providing that — not only through STEM education — but also through the Boys & Girls Club, career guidance, technical talks, summer programs and student internships.

To learn more about CoverMyMeds’ impact in Columbus, visit our campus and community page.

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