110 students receive scholarships to start their STEM and global competence education this July

The bp Global STEM Academies, full scholarship study abroad programs for young people energized to solve some of today’s biggest global challenges, are about to kick off for the third year in a row, in a new and innovative format.

With physical study abroad currently not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 110 scholarship winners will participate in a virtual program before traveling to the Academies in 2021 in Brazil, Egypt, India and the USA. The Academies are organized in partnership between bp, a global energy company, and AFS Intercultural Programs, a leading intercultural learning nonprofit.

The current pandemic only further reinforces the urgent need for our brightest minds to work together and use their STEM knowledge to find workable global solutions to urgent global challenges. AFS is proud to offer these Academies that will give young people the opportunity to become true global citizens who are empowered to improve their personal skills, local communities and the world,” says Efrem Fisher, Chief Programs Officer at AFS Intercultural Programs.

“Earlier this year we announced a new company purpose for bp–reimagining energy for people and our planet–and an ambition to become a net zero energy company by 2050 if not sooner, and to help the world get there too,” says Kerry Dryburgh, vice president people & culture and chief people officer, bp. “Recent events, such as the pandemic, have made our commitment stronger than ever. But we don’t have all the answers – we want to work with others, listen to different views and seek bright ideas to find the best solutions to global problems. We believe these talented and innovative young people can help us to make it happen–while enjoying the experience of a lifetime.

The virtual program consists of three components:

  • a global competence and social impact curriculum,
  • team projects focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and
  • interactive virtual “events” with bp and other inspiring experts and leaders in STEM.

Beginning the week of July 27, students will be introduced to the SDGs and how they can work together to advance these in their communities. Scholars will then split into small, global teams to focus on the SDGs and the pandemic, exploring how they see the world changing with regards to the SDGs as a result of the pandemic, and more importantly, how they would like to see the world changing.

At the same time, scholars will also complete a new social impact curriculum developed in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy, and complementing the research-driven, AFS global competence education curriculum. The new skills they gain will enable them to identify social issues, engage with community members, and execute their own customized social impact project. Scholars will be carefully guided on this process of developing their own social impact project by skilled AFS intercultural learning facilitators, and bp experts on climate change and the energy transition.

The virtual program culminates with a series of sessions highlighting STEM and cultural highlights from the four 2021 Academy host countries, and expert speakers, professionals and specialists in STEM, including learning more about bp by connecting with its global leadership and employees to learn about the company’s values, objectives, and possible career paths.

110 scholars were selected from almost 4,000 applications received from 91 countries. All participants in the Academies are high schoolers from all backgrounds who reflect the diversity of populations around the world, and have a demonstrated interest in STEM and interacting with different cultures. Special emphasis is placed on young women and students with financial need to make the Academies more inclusive.

“I believe that in my part of the world, there is very little awareness amongst young females about technology or engineering. I dream to change this trend for Azerbaijan and by participating in this program I plan to share a personal STEM testimony which hopefully will change many lives. I feel that it is my responsibility to reach out to young girls and encourage them to step forward,” said a participant in the 2019 Academies from Azerbaijan.

The Academies have been proven to enrich the scholars’ STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) knowledge and develop their global competence through a diverse, interactive, and hands-on curriculum. 98% of previous participants say this experience improved their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, 87% that it increased their interest in pursuing a STEM education, and 85% that it increased their interest in a STEM career (85%). 

Follow #bpSTEM and #AFSeffect on social media to find out more about the experiences of these young scholars as they advance through the 2020-2021 bp Global STEM Academies.

by Sean Reilly, Manager of Sponsored Programs and Milena Miladinovic, Communications & External Affairs