Three years ago, we launched the Informatica Next 25 initiative – a seven-year commitment focused on preparing underrepresented middle school students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
In partnership with The Public Education Foundation (PEF), 25 middle school students from a STEM-certified magnet school in Las Vegas were chosen to participate in the program, following them through high school graduation. Why Las Vegas? Informatica has a strong tie to this community as it hosts two large events here annually, bringing thousands to town each year. With “Do Good” as a core value and our corporate responsibility to give back to the communities in we operate, Informatica is proud to be involved with a program that is focused on making an impact in the lives of Las Vegas children.
Together with the PEF, we’ve been working closely with members of the local community to provide academic support, one-on-one student engagement, and activities designed to help close the opportunity and access gap for these students. The goal is to arm the students with critical skills needed to pursue a STEM-related degree in higher education, and also keep their interest in the area during this critical time in their development.
Last month we held our first virtual Genius Camp of the year where we had the privilege of having Informatica’s head of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging, Kristan Keene, participate as a guest speaker. Genius Camps are a foundational component of the program, which help prepare the students beyond academics by offering focused, personalized learning pathways to build self-confidence, improve social skills, and promote a more positive outlook of the future.
The Camp’s theme was all around “Empowering Your Inner Entrepreneur,” with sessions specifically dedicated to providing the students with tools and strategies they need to navigate and thrive in this ever-changing world. Kristan spoke about Informatica’s ongoing commitment to cultivating a values-driven culture (We DATA!) as well as her role as the leader of D&I for the company and previous experience as an entrepreneur. Perhaps the most impactful lesson she shared was in helping the students understand just how much support they have with their “chosen family,” i.e., friends, teachers, their Next 25 coaches, etc. To say her talk was inspiring is an understatement. The students’ remarks are evident that Kristan made a lasting impact on each and every one of them:
“Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are an inspiration. I was very moved by your story.”
“It made me realize that I am going to hit obstacles in my life, and I can’t give up but keep trying and to make sure I learn through the hard times.”
“We will always have people in our life that are here to help us!”
“Even if you are in a terrible situation, there is always something to learn and overcome.”
In addition to Kristan’s talk, the highlight for me was hearing the student’s aspirations for pursuing careers in video game development, teaching, cancer research, and more. It is extremely inspiring to see this group of young adults thriving and I am so proud to be part of a company that is dedicated to supporting the dreams of these students.
With that, I am thrilled to share that Informatica has just committed an additional $50,000 towards the Next 25 initiative, helping to further prepare these students for careers in STEM. Check out this video to learn more about our commitment and hear from some the students directly!