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Release Date

January 30, 2019

Returning Citizens: SHRM and Partners Announce Availability of Getting Talent Back to Work Toolkit

Associations and companies representing more than 60 percent of the U.S. workforce are committing to change their recruiting practices to include those with criminal backgrounds in a national initiative announced by Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Taylor called for action within the business community following the passage of the First Step Act, which improves rehabilitation and re-entry opportunities for thousands of incarcerated men and women.

Getting Talent Back to Work is a national pledge open to all organizations that was signed even before the formal announcement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, the American Staffing Association, SHRM, Koch Industries, Dave's Killer Bread Foundation and more.

Organizations are pledging to give opportunities to qualified people with a criminal background, deserving of a second chance, which creates successful outcomes for employers, all employees, customers and communities.

Release Date

January 30, 2019

"Learning Undefeated" Provides STEM Education and Workforce Development Opportunities to Underserved Communities

Reference: Charting a Course for Success: America's Strategy for STEM Education

MdBio Foundation announced on January 29 that it has changed its name to Learning Undefeated (www.learningundefeated.org). The rebranding reflects the expansion of the organization's mission to provide more STEM education and workforce development opportunities to underserved communities in numerous states around the country.

Operating the first multi-state mobile laboratory program in the nation, Learning Undefeated seeks to spark students' interest in STEM careers and help build an innovation economy workforce by providing hands-on, experiential education programs for grades K-12.

"For more than 15 years, our organization has been a trailblazer in mobile STEM education. We've seen first-hand how the Maryland communities we visit and students we teach have blossomed from gaining hands-on experience in our lab and a greater understanding about career possibilities they may have never considered," said Brian Gaines, CEO of Learning Undefeated. "More recently, working in communities outside our traditional borders, we realized that we have a great opportunity to expand our reach and bring our proven immersive STEM program to even more schools nationwide. We are changing our name to Learning Undefeated to better reflect our expanded mission of educating students who are typically underrepresented in STEM and, in the process, diversifying the pipeline of future professionals by inspiring students to imagine their own success."

Learning Undefeated launched its mobile lab program in 2003 - first with the MdBioLab and more recently with the newer, larger Mobile eXploration Lab – with a focus on providing educational opportunities featuring the latest tools and technologies to Maryland high school students. Since its inception, the mobile labs have served more nearly 200,00 K-12 students during more than 600 school visits across every school district in the state. Approximately 75 percent of those students were from low-income school districts. Since 2003, more than $7 million has been raised from corporate supporters, foundations, individuals, and state and local government to support Learning Undefeated's STEM education programming.

In 2016 the program expanded when Learning Undefeated was awarded a $1.36 million grant from Verizon to operate a mobile STEM lab for the Washington, D.C., public schools. In its pilot year, the Verizon explorer lab provided virtual reality and gaming components, as well as in-classroom experiences, to middle school students in grades 6, 7 and 8. Additional grant funding of more than $1.2 million has enabled the explorer lab to move to Texas for the 2018-19 school year, where it is serving schools in the Houston area.

In 2017, moved by a piece on the evening news, the Learning Undefeated team saw an opportunity to take its MdBioLab to Southeast Texas to help schools that were damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Harvey. Initially raising $50,000 from Maryland companies to send the lab to Texas for two weeks, the program has received more than $2 million from the Rebuild Texas Fund, AstraZeneca MedImmune, Northrop Grumman, VWR and CNSI to teach students onboard the mobile lab at schools between Corpus Christi and Houston. To date, the two Texas initiatives have served more than 10,000 students from disaster-impacted communities in 12 school districts, with another 5,000 students expected before the end of the school year.

For the 2019-2020 school year, Learning Undefeated received a Rebuild Texas Fund grant in the amount of $1.25 million for the construction and operation of two Drop Anywhere Labs, which will provide relief and rebuilding efforts for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Drop Anywhere Labs are custom-outfitted shipping containers converted to mobile labs and designed to offer engaging, immersive and hands-on educational experiences and resources for students and teachers alike. Smaller, lighter and less expensive than trailer labs, Drop Anywhere Labs offer a blend of career and skills education, providing flexible in-classroom resources that empower teachers and serve up to four classes simultaneously.

Learning Undefeated's flagship mobile laboratory programs serve more than 25,000 students per year. In addition to Maryland, D.C. and Texas, Learning Undefeated also has served students in California, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.

In the self-contained mobile labs, which have their own power and water supply, Learning Undefeated offers programs in a number of curriculum areas, including biology and life sciences, chemistry, construction, cyber security, engineering and engineering design, environmental science, forensics, internet of things (IoT) and virtual reality (VR).

Learning Undefeated's work goes beyond the mobile lab programs. Other STEM education programs include the Young Science Explorers Program, a summer camp for middle school students; Advancing Tomorrow's Leaders in STEM (ATLAS) college and career exploration program; STEM Leadership Experience; student competitions; after-school programs; curriculum development; and disaster recovery education.

Learn more about the organization and its education programs at learningundefeated.org.

Updated: January 30, 2019