Creighton University was recently saluted for its work to connect minority students with opportunities in STEM fields. Creighton’s commendable efforts are in line with those of the AIM Institute, an Omaha organization doing pioneering work in connecting young people from underrepresented backgrounds with software coding and other tech-related opportunities.
Omaha cannot reach its full potential unless it maximizes the growth possibilities for all its citizens. And tech fields provide some of the most promising employment options in our area. Efforts such as those by Creighton and AIM, among other similar initiatives in our area, have great value for minority residents and for our community as a whole.
Members of minority groups currently make up a fifth of Nebraska’s population, The World-Herald’s Henry Cordes reports. But the trend line is moving steadily upward, and by 2040 minorities are projected to account for a third of the state’s population. Nebraska should work to see that opportunities are extended broadly across the state’s population.
Creighton’s Department of Health Sciences-Multicultural and Community Affairs was among colleges singled out recently for commendation by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. Creighton stands out for how its mentoring, teaching, research and community outreach introduce students from underrepresented backgrounds to STEM opportunities, said the magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.
Creighton’s health sciences schools have longstanding relationships in North and South Omaha, for example, working with residents and helping students develop skills in health-related research and professions.
“We had an opportunity to apply, which required us to meet stringent criteria regarding inclusiveness,” said Dr. Sade Kosoko-Lasaki, associate vice provost of health sciences and professor of surgery. “We had to demonstrate that the university maintains a lot of STEM programs — science, technology, engineering and math — to promote diversity in the field.”
Another local standout is the AIM Institute, a nonprofit at 19th and Harney Streets that introduces children and adults to a range of STEM opportunities, with a particular focus on underserved populations. Two-thirds of the people the nonprofit works with come from low-income backgrounds.
Last year, the institute’s free technology education and exploration activities reached some 4,000 youths.
Forty-eight percent of students at AIM’s Code School are people of color. Since inception, 75% of the Code School’s 300-plus graduates have landed tech positions with a median salary of $51,000. In 2019, AIM’s IT Leadership Academy and IT Emerging Leaders programs graduated 63 participants from companies such as TD Ameritrade and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. These are outstanding achievements.
This work by Creighton and AIM provides laudable examples of dedicated community engagement, with tremendous long-term benefits to individuals and our area.