Alcoa Foundation and Discovery Education’s "Manufacture Your Future" off to a strong start

Alcoa-Foundation-Logo-150x150According to a national survey, less than 20 percent of Americans said that their parents or school system had encouraged them to pursue a career in manufacturing. In response, Alcoa Foundation, the charitable arm of Alcoa, a manufacturing company pioneering the revitalization of the industry, teamed up with their new partner, Discovery Education, in an effort to bridge the industry’s unemployment gap through an online program named "Manufacture Your Future," which debuted in late May.

The product of their partnership, "Manufacture Your Future," encourages post-secondary education through an online platform accessible to educators, guidance counselors, and families. The creation of jobs that require a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) background are increasing at nearly double the rate of general job creation. With an economy comprised of one in seven private sector jobs reliant on a manufacturing base, bolstering STEM education is imperative.

"The manufacturing industry is an innovative place full of exciting potential," said Esra Ozer, president, Alcoa Foundation. "However, we need a strong pipeline of talent to fill the increasing demand in the manufacturing industry. Programs like ‘Manufacture Your Future’ help kick-start a student’s understanding of possible manufacturing careers."

As the world’s third largest producer of aluminum, it makes sense that Alcoa Foundation chose to partner with Discovery Education, a like-minded organization, whose goal is to create engagement programs offering free classroom resources.

"What we are doing is developing materials that fit into what school districts need to teach and are matched to standards," said Mary Rollins, overseer of corporate partnerships at Discovery Education. Materials available to guidance counselors and educators include lesson plans, "discussion starters," and career trajectory descriptions and salary ranges, which are all conveniently accessible on the web-based portal.

In order to ensure accuracy and user success, Alcoa Foundation included a number of nonprofit organizations such as The Manufacturing Institute and SkillsUSA, who were able to advise Discovery’s creation of tailored curriculums. By vetting their initiative with experts in the field, Alcoa Foundation is now able to support the next generation of manufacturing leaders and innovators and narrow the gap which threatens to limit the United States’ competitive edge as a global leader.

In addition to rolling out "Manufacture Your Future" to more than 3.5 million educators in May, Discovery Education also distributed the resources to 33,000 members of the American School Counselors Association, thereby extending their reach to educators.

The collaboration with Discovery Education is part of Alcoa Foundation’s larger effort to support global and local environmental and educational programs– 34 percent in 2013 was invested in its STEM and workforce development portfolio of partnerships and initiatives.

Join the Center for our July 9 webinar, when Alcoa Foundation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Applied Materials Foundation will discuss their experiences and the important connection between education and manufacturing. Click here to register.