Inspiring Programs in STEM Award 2020

Akron Public Schools Healthcare In Progress (HIP) program in partnership with Kent State University and The University of Akron received the 2020 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

The Inspiring Programs in STEM Award honors colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from under-represented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Akron Public Schools, Kent State University and The University of Akron will be featured, along with 49 other recipients, in the September 2020 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

Inspiring Programs in STEM Award winners were selected by INSIGHT Into Diversity based on efforts to inspire and encourage a new generation of young people to consider careers in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research, and successful programs and initiatives.

Dr. David James: We value the partnership with Kent State University and The University of Akron in providing educational opportunities and experiences for students in Akron Public Schools.

In partnership with Akron Public Schools, Kent State University and The University of Akron, HIP exposes students to different career opportunities available in healthcare. Throughout the school year, students become involved with area hospitals and can participate in summer opportunities that introduce them to the colleges within the partnership. The HIP Initiative has helped more than 1,700 students, with an emphasis on populations under-represented in health care, picture and be better prepared for their futures in healthcare careers.

Akron Public Schools Healthcare In Progress (HIP) program in partnership with Kent State University and The University of Akron has been in existence since 2000 when a diverse group of institutions came together to form the Healthcare in Progress (HIP) Initiative for the betterment of community health. More than 75% of students who have participated are females, and 80% are non-white. HIP introduces students to various medical-related fields (medicine, nursing, hospitality and support services, information systems and medical records, biomedical engineering, radiology, laboratory, pharmacy, physiology, and rehabilitation technical services) and takes them into hospital settings to experience and observe healthcare and medical practice in action.

More than 500 of these 1,700 students have also participated in HIP's summer program, a week-long opportunity for students to experience "life on campus" with an emphasis on post-secondary education for healthcare careers. The summer week provides many opportunities such as shadowing health care professionals on the job, problem-based learning projects and information on healthcare careers. In addition to the summer pipeline from eighth-grade to 12th-grade programs, Fall and Spring Seminar touch bases were created over the last four years. Furthermore, the Rachel's Angels program has been wrapped into the HIP program to provide students an opportunity to speak about the opioid crisis to health classes across middle and high schools in our own and area school systems.

At each grade level these programs:
  • engage high school level students by raising awareness of opportunities in healthcare careers during high school and beyond;
  • provide pathways to local educational opportunities in the student's area of interest;
  • create a forum to provide curriculum counseling for how to get into college and into a career; and,
  • connect students to the many scholarships and other funding opportunities to help them pay for their education.
The goal is to place graduates in meaningful careers with earning power making positive contributions to the healthcare team in Akron and the Northeastern Ohio region. As Akron Public Schools engages in Academy work, the HIP program is the platform from which the district emulated other partnerships within the city. The academies related to health care are the following: Sports Medicine & Health Care Professions (Buchtel CLC), Healthcare (East CLC), Animal Sciences (Ellet CLC), Nursing & Patient Care (Kenmore-Garfield), Allied Health, Healthcare Operations, PLTW Biomedical Science (North), Biotechnology (STEM), and an Associate Degree in Science (Akron Early College).

"We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success, dedication and mentorship for under-represented students," says Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. "We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond."

For more information about the 2020 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award and INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, visit
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