IRVINE, CA - Pictured (L to R): Front – Jamboree residents Sarosh Akbar, Rana Bahrani, Angelica Sinajon receive new laptops as part of OC STEM Initiative’s WATT Program. Back – Ben Sanchez, Jamboree Senior Resident Services Coordinator; Chris Kent, Anaheim YMCA After-School Network and AutoCAD instructor; Cheryl Martinez, Student Support Specialist, Growth Sector; Nubia Rocha, VP & Area Manager of OC Business Banking, JP Morgan Chase, and Linda Christopher, Executive Director, OC STEM Initiative.
WHAT: A five-week AutoCAD class was held for 20 women residents from Jamboree’s affordable housing communities in Orange County through the collaboration of multiple local partners. Upon graduation from the class – known as OC STEM Initiative’s WATT (Women Advancing Through Technology) – each student was given a new laptop pre-loaded with AutoCAD, and a customized carrying bag. AutoCAD is a commercial software application for 2D and 3D computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting. Since this software is used to create blueprints for buildings, bridges, and computer chips, it is commonly utilized in STEM-related fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Representatives from Saddleback Community College and Santa Ana College provided specific opportunities for the women to pursue further education towards a STEM career.
WHO: Partners included the OC STEM Initiative, JP Morgan Chase, Growth Sector, Anaheim YMCA After-School Network, and Jamboree. The women were invited from Jamboree communities, a leading nonprofit affordable housing developer in California that provides impactful resident services. Many residents hold degrees, certifications, or professional licenses from outside the U.S. and need to re-qualify in order to work in their designated field of expertise here in the states. Jamboree residents were selected to participate as the program aligns with Jamboree’s mission to deliver quality affordable housing and services that transform lives and strengthen communities.
WHERE: Classes and graduation were hosted at the Orange County Department of Education campus in Costa Mesa, CA.
WHY: Traditionally, there’s been a shortage of women in STEM fields, to a greater degree than many other professions. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, women in fields commonly referred to as STEM made up 7 percent of that workforce in 1970, a figure that by 2011 had grown to just 26 percent of the science workforce. In a world of increasing diversity, there is a greater focus on encouraging mentoring to support women throughout their education and professional lives.
HOW: The idea for the class originated at an Anaheim YMCA After-School Network event, where AutoCAD instructor Chris Kent and OC STEM Executive Director Linda Christopher were conversing with one of Jamboree’s Resident Services staff, and realized Jamboree residents were a perfect fit for an AutoCAD class designed to encourage women to pursue a STEM career. JP Morgan Chase, which has a representative on the OC STEM board, provided a $20,000 grant through Growth Sector to support the program, and purchase the new laptops. Growth Sector, a nonprofit with a strategy to provide job training for underserved populations by bringing together employers, community colleges, government and foundations, joined the unique collaboration. As the recipient of this incredible program, Jamboree worked to overcome obstacles that would prevent residents from participating, providing transportation to and from the Costa Mesa class, childcare and programs for kids during classes, as well as breakfast and lunch on each class day for participants.
ABOUT JAMBOREE: Founded in 1990 and celebrating its 25th anniversary, Irvine, CA-headquartered Jamboree Housing Corporation is an award-winning, broad-based nonprofit housing development company that develops, acquires, renovates and manages permanently affordable rental and ownership housing throughout California for working families, seniors and people with special needs. A leading nonprofit community development organization, Jamboree is committed to sustaining excellence with high quality affordable housing that benefits the environment, the economy and local communities. Currently, it has $320 million in its development pipeline and a $1 billion asset portfolio that includes the development of and/or ownership interest in more than 7,500 homes in more than 75 California communities. Jamboree’s Community Impact Group offers resident services that foster learning, health and community building at 35 Jamboree communities with designated staff at each location. For more information, go to www.jamboreehousing.com.