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Great Minds in STEM (GMiS)

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. See the organization’s website for its latest information.

For over 24 years, the Great Minds in STEM™ (GMiS), a 501(c)(3) organization, has offered a series of targeted educational programs promoting college readiness, awareness, resources and access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers among underrepresented middle and high school students in the Los Angeles area. GMiS mentoring is based on the premise that community engagement serves as a catalyst for boosting student interest and achievement in STEM education.

The GMiS mentoring philosophy is characterized by a whole community engagement with students, parents, teachers, local entrepreneurs, administrators, community-based organizations and community stakeholders. GMiS drives change in the mindset of the community in order to create a sustained college-going culture with a long-term return on investment by accelerating college success in STEM. Since 2000, GMiS has distributed over $1.7 million in merit-based scholarships to 874 Hispanic high school seniors. In 2012, 39 percent of scholarship recipients were female. Three major programs of GMiS are:

  • The STEM-UP Initiative over the last five years has been providing educational outreach to over 18,000 K-12 public school students in 20 East Los Angeles schools, as well as 28 parent workshops, 15 teacher workshops, 350 in-class activities, 25 day-long Viva Technology™ programs, and 14 science fairs (nearly 2,500 K-12 students participated in the science fair activities in the last three years alone).
  • The Viva Technology™ program, (a GMiS flagship national initiative begun in 2001), is designed to engage all underserved youth, teachers, and parents (employing bilingual orientation for parents) in the applications of technology-challenging minority students to apply their learned math and reasoning skills to real-world structural engineering problems. To-date, the Viva Technology program has reached over 90,000 inner-city and rural middle and high school students, parents, and teachers in 18 states.
  • The newest GMiS program initiated in 2010 -- the K-12 Educators' Institute -- offers teachers and administrators culturally relevant techniques and resources to connect existing curricula with real-world STEM applications. The Institute also provides teachers with seminars on the current STEM crisis, national trends, gaps, and achievements among underrepresented students in STEM education. Seventy teachers (62 percent of whom are Hispanic) have participated in the first three years.

GMiS has grown tremendously over 24 years, both in the services provided and financial sustainability. GMiS remains a leading national organization and was recognized by the White House in its March 2011 report, Winning the Future: President Obama's Agenda and the Hispanic Community, as uniquely committed to showcasing Hispanic technical talent. In 2012, the GMiS CEO and Chairman, Ray Mellado, was recognized among the first induction class of the U.S. News and World Report Hall of Fame.