21st Century Minds reaches a major milestone

STEM is currently a hot topic in the press, with extensive coverage of Australia’s Science and Maths performance remaining stagnant for the last 20 years. We recognised that this was a problem worth solving back in 2014 and went about determining the role that PwC could play in solving it.

At the start of this year we proudly launched our flagship education initiative, the 21st Century Minds Accelerator (21CM) Program. Twenty of Australia’s best science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education initiatives were selected to participate in the program, designed to unearth, grow and scale their ventures.

Created with PwC’s global purpose of building trust and solving important problems in mind, we saw a strong need for Australia to ensure it’s reputation as an innovation nation. The 21CM program was designed in response to broad, cross sector stakeholder engagement on how PwC could add value to improving STEM education outcomes in Australia. Rather than creating another initiative we harnessed the skills and expertise in the firm and channeled it into growing 20 of Australia’s best STEM education initiatives.

It was a unique way for the firm to deliver social impact through collaboration. We have co-designed and collaborated with a wide variety of our clients and other stakeholders such as the Office of the Chief Scientist, Google, NAB, BP, Education Changemakers and the Foundation for Young Australians. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our passionate community for their contribution to the program and their commitment to improving educational outcomes in STEM.

“The access you gave participants to businesses, government and the education sector, in a setting that made it ok for them to ask for support, was outstanding.” Accelerator collaborator, Foundation for Young Australians

By leveraging the skills, knowledge, expertise and networks of the community, the 21CM program has successfully amplified the impact of these twenty initiatives, which collectively reach over 150,000 students, 900 teachers and 3,500 schools across Australia.

Luke Kerr, founder of Real Time Learning said,

“This has been a most rewarding and timely experience and opportunity for our initiative. I can honestly say this has helped us achieve what could have potentially taken years to achieve.”

Ashley van Krieken of Emerging Sciences Victoria at John Monash Science School also remarked,

“Great program! Participating in it changed my view of PwC, in addition to the other mentors such as Australia Post and NAB. Corporate Australia needs to be fully behind these types of programs and PwC has shown great leadership in this regard.”

The program culminated with two showcase events in Sydney and Melbourne last month, with the 20 initiatives pitching to an audience of teachers, education leaders, investors and those passionate about supporting STEM education in Australia. At both events, the audience voted for the “21CM Innovator of the Year”, with each winner receiving $10,000 from PwC. The winners were the National Indigenous Science and Education Program (NISEP) in Sydney and Code the Future in Melbourne.

The next phase of this program will see us form strategic partnerships with two of the 21CM initiatives in 2017, where we will invest $500,000 in services to continue to amplify the scale and impact of their organisations. We will announce these partnerships early next year.

Finally, we’d like to congratulate all 20 initiatives for your continued hard work and dedication throughout the program. We’re proud this experience has helped scale and accelerate the impact you’re having on the STEM landscape in Australia.

Check out the videos below of our final workshop and Showcase events.

Workshop 3 highlights

Sydney Innovator of the Year – NISEP

Melbourne Innovator of the Year – Code the Future

Kirstyn Chan works in PwC Australia’s Social Impact team and is here to provide you with the latest news from the 21st Century Minds program.  Follow her on Twitter @kirstyn_c.

 

Initiatives gearing up for take off

On the 1st and 2nd of March our 20 initiatives, as well as our accelerator partners and industry collaborators, will be getting together for the first time in Sydney.  In the lead up we asked a few of our initiatives to share a bit about themselves and how they’re feeling about the year ahead.

What three words describe you best?

Optimist, Novocastrian, ESTJMarko Njavro, Apptedude

Learner, Ambitious, DedicatedBec Spink, code the future

“Committed, Open, PragmaticAmanda Caldwell, National Youth Science Forum

“Never gives up” Christian Williams, Make Maths Awesome

“Spirited, Resilient, Determined” Michele Miller, RoboticsWPS

What drives you to do what you do?

Penance for my previous life as a banker 🙂  But seriously, the desire to contribute to creating a true “level playing field” (with respect to disadvantaged socio-economic groups and gender) and to play a role in removing some of the obstacles to upward social mobility.” Marko Njavro, Apptedude

I’m an educator first and always. I live and breath education. I am always learning and am driven to help others (both children and adults) at every stage of their own learning. Every decision I make as part of our team is made with one foot in a classroom.” Bec Spink, code the future

Desire to make a difference, build something that has impact and value from Adelaide. Show the world the quality of Australian education!Jon Soong, Makers Empire

“I’m was lucky enough to live my childhood dream and it was an awesome feeling. I want as many kids as possible to have that same opportunity.” Christian Williams, Make Maths Awesome

There is a lot of pressure on young people to decide on their futures early, but the future is what we make of today. I want young people to be aware that there are career choices and options today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and being well informed about those choices is what will empower them.” Amanda Caldwell, National Youth Science Forum

“Witnessing the growth in confidence, engagement and pure delight in discovery learning which our students display, along with the continued positive support and feedback I receive from our client principals and teachers about our programs.” Michele Miller, RoboticsWPS

What excites you most about being part of the program?

Access to some of the brightest minds and influencers in Australian Education with the backing of one of the world’s leading consultancies. There is still so much left to learn and test and 21CM has enabled us to step out of our small, Sydney based network and has opened up a world of possibilities with respect to trusted advice, mentoring and networking.” Marko Njavro, Apptedude

Connecting with other like-minded people and changing preconceived ideas about coding education in Australian schools.” Bec Spink, code the future

Ability to connect with experts in the education field and meet people who have done this before!” Jon Soong, Makers Empire

The opportunity to increase the NYSF’s network of like-minded people from like-minded organisations, with guidance from people experienced in strategic planning.” Amanda Caldwell, National Youth Science Forum

“To be able to connect with like minded businesses with the same desire to facilitate change in school education programs through STEM, which have an amazing impact on student learning and outcomes.” Michele Miller, RoboticsWPS

“Having the opportunity to change the way we teach in Australia and make our education system the best in the world!” Christian Williams, Make Maths Awesome

Strap on your seatbelts 21CM, we’re getting ready for take off!