In December 2021, the Jubilee Family Development Center held the grand opening of their long-anticipated STEM Center, newly named the Astronaut Leland Melvin Stem Center. Years in the making, this learning hub is bridging the education gap for youth and adults alike. We sat down with Hannah Tillotson, the STEM Center Director, to find out more about their new venture and what it means for LYH!
What exactly is the STEM Center and how did it come about?
For many years, Jubilee has focused many of our vocational training and youth summer camps on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities, with a vision for opening a facility/program one day concentrating exclusively on STEM. Jubilee renovated and opened our new STEM Center in 2021, and it is located next door to Jubilee’s main building on Florida Avenue, in a building that Jubilee already owned. Lynchburg has a poverty rate of 19%, and it is important for individuals to have opportunities with a support system. The Astronaut Leland Melvin STEM Center provides programs for youth and adults to learn about STEM, and for adults to secure the training and certifications needed to be employed in a STEM career.
What do you see as the greatest needs in LYH for education and opportunity?
We had a meeting last month about this! Lynchburg has many manufacturing and health care facilities that are struggling to find employees to hire. The STEM Center will encourage local individuals across a broad range of demographics to receive the education needed for them to be successful in STEM careers.
Can you give us some examples of what programming looks like for kids?
My goal for the youth programs is exposure. I love to see each student find a STEM topic that they want to explore. Community partnerships allow us to show the students many different careers, paths, hobbies, and more! The students get to be curious about topics and have a nurturing environment that encourages exploration.
For adults, the STEM Center focuses on career opportunities and growth. This means that Jubilee partners with organizations to bring credential/certificate programs to the STEM Center. Each partner works with us closely to bring the best possible service to our adult students. Jubilee also recently hired a Life Coach to provide support and wrap-around services to our students!
What does your partnership with CVCC look like?
I cannot express how much CVCC’s constant support is valued at Jubilee. The CVCC staff and faculty are passionate about their classes and are happy to work with our students and Life Coach to make sure success happens. The program that CVCC currently has at the STEM Center is Mechatronics, which is a combination of mechanics, electronics, robotics, and IT. This program is beneficial for those looking to be hired by many industries. Some of the industries have endorsed the program at CVCC!
What opportunities are there for our business community to get involved with the STEM center?
Good question! There are many ways to get involved; the best way is to contact us and set up a meeting. Some ways that local businesses are getting involved are Career Spotlight, Summer Programs, and Service Days. Career Spotlight is for our middle and high school students, where employees from STEM fields explain their career and pathway. Summer Programs allow for day trips and educational lessons for youth ages 6-12. Companies can also schedule a Service Day for their employees to participate in at Jubilee. They have helped us with landscaping, cleaning, etc. We appreciate every single person who wants to get involved with us! Jubilee is stronger with community support!
For more information on the Jubilee STEM Center visit their website HERE
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