STEAM & Dream MKE 2023
American Family Insurance (AmFam) brought the STEAM & Dream National Summit to Milwaukee for a second year. This year’s summit was held at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) and featured motivational speaker Wallo 267.
Wallo 267 spoke to a room of youth and adults about his life journey, changing his life around, and encouraging those in the room to fight for what they want.
“I did five years juvenile, I did 20 years in the penitentiary. I’m only 44. I spent most of my life inside of cells, and I still got it together because I wanted to get it together.”– Wallo 267
STEAM & Dream started in 2020 in Milwaukee during the COVID-19 pandemic because of a lack of access to computers and STEM programming at home for students. The initiative started small by giving away free laptops to Milwaukee youth to now grown into a platform that gives youth and adults access to STEAM in ways communities like Milwaukee haven’t seen before.
The initiative’s goal is to prepare Black, Brown, and POC students for careers in STEM through engaging programming, mentorship, and more.
STEAM & Dream is led by AmFam and is a collective of community-based organizations including Young Enterprising Society (YES), Connect Business Consulting, Jet Constellations, and Sherman Phoenix.
According to a press release, these organizations are committed to fostering partnerships that build power for communities most impacted by physical, economic, and social disparities and close gaps for Black, Brown, and POC youth in STEAM-based fields.
“For us at American Family Insurance, specifically the Milwaukee Strategic Partnerships team,…we were once in the community wanting and having this deeply rooted desire to have people that look like us showcase their talents, showcase their dreams.”– AmFam Community and Social Impact Advisor Maritza Contreras
YES was a partner of last year’s Milwaukee summit that brought out the media company Earn Your Leisure. This year, YES hosted the summit.
“We are grateful to have been able to host the 2023 STEAM and Dream MKE summit as it allowed us to stand true to our mission, mobilizing people, resources & information for the greater good of our community,” said YES Project Manager Steph Crosley.
20 Laptops and 2 Scholarships
During the summit, Milwaukee youth and adults had the opportunity to participate in workshops, engaging activities, free lunch, goodie bags, and even a photo booth. There was music by youth DJ Blanket who had won a kid’s DJ competition.
Students were shown how to fly drones and how to make a toy ball go in a circle by using an app on their phones, amongst other STEAM activities. JoAnne Sabir, AmFam Corporate Strategy Manager, said the Milwaukee community, and communities alike, are ready for more events like STEAM & Dream.
“It’s important because there’s so much brilliance that rests inside of communities, inside of us. And so for me, this gives an opportunity to connect our brilliance to folks that have done the work,” said Sabir.
20 laptops were given away and two scholarships were awarded.
For the Milwaukee summit, AmFam partnered with Guidewire: a software company that offers an industry platform for property and casualty insurance carriers in the U.S. and worldwide.
Guidewire Director Kevin Call said the organization has a social impact arm and the STEAM & Dream summits fit right into that. While at the event Call gave advice to those wanting to enter the tech industry.
“Reach out. You say, ‘Hey, I’m a student. I want to learn about what you do.’ I’m absolutely going to reach back to you and say, ‘Hey, how can I help you?,'” said Call.
Providing Access to STEAM Across the Country
STEAM & Dream started in Milwaukee but the goal is to impact cities across the country. The initiative has touched base in Atlanta, Chicago, and Phoenix.
The next summit will be held in Chicago during the month of October.
“Half the battle is recognizing that when you see people that look like you and you’re able to see yourself in what they do that’s where the magic really happens,” said Contreras.
Nyesha Stone founded Carvd N Stone in 2017 to cover positive news while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stone has a B.A. in Journalism. She has raised over $30,000 to award grants and scholarships. She has also been featured in ESSENCE and worked with the American Black Film Festival.