ShareIT awarded Inclusive Leadership Challenge Grant
UC's partnership with Hughes STEM High School provides more opportunities for students
The University of Cincinnati Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Community Impact recently named the Digital Technology Solutions ShareIT program the recipient of a $194,000 university-sponsored Inclusive Leadership Challenge Grant.
Developing student talent
UC Vice President for Equity, Inclusion & Community Impact Bleuzette Marshall officially announced ShareIT as one of this year’s annual Inclusive Leadership Challenge Grant awardees during the Marian Spencer Equity Ambassador Awards Luncheon at the university’s 14th Annual Equity & Inclusion Conference Tuesday, Apr. 4, 2023.
“DTS has been a leader in our university's inclusion efforts,” Marshall said. “Standing on a record of successfully delivering ShareIT, team members proposed and pitched an innovative ShareIT 2.0 project capable of filling a need and closing a gap.
"By developing student talent and connecting resources across the region, the impact of this project will not only benefit our university community, but the information technology industry as well," Marshall said.
"We are thrilled to award our largest Inclusive Leadership Challenge Grant as an investment in students and Digital Technology Solutions to accelerate our next.”
ShareIT is a UC supported, K-12 outreach program for future innovators, engineers, coders, and leaders. The program, now in its eighth year, aims to address the economic demand for qualified graduates in IT, computing, and data sciences by attracting local high school students who may not normally consider an IT career.
ShareIT cohorts typically include Cincinnati Public Schools students enrolled in the IT track of Hughes STEM High School’s “Kids to career opportunities” program. DTS partners with the Office of Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact to outfit ShareIT participants with their own laptop and backpack to take with them to weekly sessions on UC’s campus.
IT professionals from across the university—including many DTS team members—and industry professionals from the larger community serve as guest presenters and mentors throughout the three-month program.
Students integrate lessons learned in weekly sessions and further develop their new-found skills in small group projects they present to DTS staff, Hughes instructors, and their classmates. Students who successfully complete their projects keep the resources provided including the laptop and backpack.
UC alum Mary Williams, class of 2022, was the 2020 Student Journalist of the Year, and an electronic media major at UC's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). She began her UC journey as a member of one of the first ShareIT cohorts when she was still a Hughes STEM High School student. Williams was a highly driven and hardworking student and has said that ShareIT was foundational in exposing her to the tech field. She now pays it forward to other Hughes students as a ShareIT mentor.
“ShareIT fits exactly into what we say we want to do with our Next Lives Here Bearcat Promise,” said ShareIT founder and DTS Assistant Vice President for Integrated Data, Engineering & Application Solutions Josette Riep. “We create an inclusive environment where students have the opportunity to excel, and they do!”
DTS will use the awarded grant to expand the program to more schools, more students, and to purchase more advanced equipment. ShareIT 2.0 will have multiple levels of participation, with some students participating in the 12-to-15-week program, some who may visit the innovation hub for a day and go through a focused curriculum, and some who will have access to an app where they can look for opportunities for engagement with the institution, such as internships.
“Often, the work we do as UC Digital Technology Solutions is behind-the-scenes. ShareIT gives our staff a unique opportunity to get to know students and deepen the connections we make as a DTS team," said UC Vice President & Chief Digital Officer Bharath Prabhakaran. “We’re making a positive impact in our local community and establishing IT knowledge and supporting innovation in the next generation of Bearcats."
Anisa Longe, DTS Scrum Lead/coordinator, says that she loves introducing students to IT concepts they are likely to encounter in their careers.
"The ShareIT program brings the full spectrum of information technology to the students," she said.
Expert volunteer mentors, most of whom come internally from DTS, lead the program. The volunteers come from various areas and specialties, but all have the common interest of expanding both the IT field and the horizons of the students they interact with as mentors.
DTS assistant Clarise Green said she gets a great sense of pride knowing that she can help change the trajectory of students' lives by introcuding them to technology. ShareIT can aid in the transition from high school to higher education, she said.
"ShareIT helps the student adapt to the culture of higher-ed. Building relationships with facilitators, teachers, and mentors also gives them a sense of belonging," she said.
Patrick Burke, a DTS software applications developer, is another mentor in the ShareIT program.
“Being in ShareIT from the beginning has been some of the most rewarding work I have done in my life. There is no better way of paying back those who have trusted and supported you than to invest in the future generation."
Burke also said that he has become much more aware of the issues that face some students in our local communities. He feels that becoming involved in the program was an essential stepping stone into becoming a champion of DTS diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and an ally to underrepresented groups.
Contact ShareIT for more information or to get involved as a presenter or mentor.