After a long career as a GE executive that included directing the GE Global Research Center (GRC), Mark Little retired, and along with his wife, Terri Little, has been serving and investing in the community of Schenectady, NY. Also at GRC, senior scientist Omayra Padilla De Jesús had initiated and was leading the Inspire Program, reaching out to Schenectady’s high school population in a 10-wk program at the research facilities. Such experience inspired her to leave her career to fully focus on outreach-like endeavors in which she firmly believed, given her humble background and personal experience with opportunities that were provided to her growing up. With Mark’s background in the field of science & technology, the Littles’ interest in helping the local youth, and Omayra’s passion for education, science, and outreach, Rise High was born in 2017. Using science as a tool to develop knowledge and skills in our youth that will guide them to paths of success was a common goal. Ultimately, our dream is to see cycles of poverty and limited resources broken, and broken for good!
Science is everywhere and in everything we do! Science is about curiosity, discovery, creative thinking, and problem-solving. We see it in nature, the arts, sports, our bodies, and even in engineering!
Rise High is designed to expose its students to a wide variety of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) concepts while connecting these experiences to real-world applications and careers in STEM fields. The students will explore these topics with activities that will engage them in the process of learning, applying what they have learned to solve specific problems, and developing their communication skills as they share their ideas.
The STEM-based curriculum will be complemented with topics in personal and professional development, in addition to mentorship resources that can help the students in the process of discovering their opportunities in life. Rise High’s weekly programming and cohort format also provide the sustained exposure that enables a longer-term support system, while focusing on the needs of each age group.
The students will discover talents and interests that can serve as alternative channels for creativity, and not necessarily seen as traditional science, but full of science concepts! It may be a painting session, or perhaps a match of bowling. Remember, science is in everything!
As we expose our youth from under-resourced communities to these opportunities, our goal is to increase their awareness, confidence, and interest to pursue STEM fields that can provide them with an improved quality of life, while making a difference in the world!
We are excited to have a team who is not only passionate about education and science but about wanting our youth to succeed. Our team represents a diverse background and different branches in our community. They are teachers and administrators from the Schenectady City School District, leaders from local universities, professionals from private and public entities, and community volunteers, who are working together to provide the students with an experience that can enrich their lives, and guide them into paths of sustainable life and success.
We believe that knowledge in itself is not all it takes to succeed. We believe in our youth’s potential, talents, and abilities. We believe that the lack of resources and lack of access to experiences that can provide enrichment opportunities and a supporting network can significantly limit a child’s ability to compete, diminishing their chances to thrive in our current society and economy. Therefore, it is our desire to create accessible opportunities that will counteract such limitations as we help youths tap into their potential. And we will do it with a spirit of respect, encouragement, positive challenge, and mutual inspiration.