Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A new Era for Volunterism in America

OK folks I am writing this while watching our new President Barack Obama be inaugurated. Yesterday was the Martin Luther King Jr holiday and a national day of service. I did not go out to do my service but I did work on my award, the Freddie and Ada Brown award for African American and Native American middle school and high school students. There is a new web page on http://www.njacs.org/freddieadabrown.html about this award. We had a team of the NJACS executive committe headed by Les McQuire to write the award announcement and the application. So I consider that service because four young people will be recognized for their accomplishments in school and will have a person or persons who will follow them and their careers to possibly become scientists or science literate citizens of the USA.

The ACS is a volunteer organization so for us this is not a day for service but 365 days of service. Many of you became chemists, chemical engineers or other scientists because of your love of science or because of a teacher or other mentor who lead you to that profession. It might have been by accident or by purpose. You come from different backgrounds and economic situations. You may have gone to private school and were educated in the university of your country before you came to the United States to go to graduate school or to work. Or you may have succeeded in the United States education system by having teachers who cared for you or by having a system wo cared for all students. You may have gone to a University in the United States using your student loans and later graduate fellowships.

But there are students here in the United States who are not as fortunate as you were. I was fortunate to be born in New York City at a time where education K-16 was free if you had the right grades. I was fortunate to have parents who cared about their only daughter and worked hard so that she would have a good education because all urban schools were not equal even in that time. So my father worked two jobs so that we could live in white neighborhoods and I could go to white schools who would not discriminate or dumb down the curriculum for one Black child.
But there are students here in the United States for whom this is not true. Here in New Jersey we have the most racially separated education system in the nation. This was written by the Civil Rights Project which used to be at Harvard but is now at UCLA. Students in our urban cities and some even in our suburban towns are being left behind.

Why am I telling you this? Because our new President values science. He just said that in his inaugural speech. He also values a quality K-16 education for all people. Put the two together we need to grow our own scientists. So I don't care where you received your education or what nation you received it in, you owe it to the nation that gave you a job to give back by helping young children, school districts or what ever to improve the education for all students.
Look around you where you work. Did you ever wonder about the lack of diversity in your lab? Do you look at your colleagues and wonder why they all seem to be mostly the same? When I listen to speakers at our meetings and at the end of their talk they show their research group. I am always happy when I see a diverse group of students in their group. Some companies hire chemists who have had fellowships or post doc in Research I universities. But some great science has been done by scientists who did not attend Research I universities. If you saw the Percy Julian DVD you will know that he had to go to Austria to get his PhD. Other chemists such as our own Lincoln Hawkins a Medal of Technology winner had to go to Canada to get their PhD. Now there are students who could go to these universities but they have been overlooked.

The ACS has a great program to introduce students who are economically disadvantaged to science. It is called Project SEED and has just celebrated it's 40th Anniversary. I urge you to contribute to this program when you pay your dues or at anytime on the web. It has been shown that this program has encourages many young people to become scientists. It also has the ACS Scholars program to help students through college. This was started by an ACS president who said we should have such a program.

The ACS now has a program called Diversity Partners a program which is going to reach out to our diverse scientist and find out what the ACS can do with them and for them. I hope to have two of these diversity partners come to speak to our section when we have the Section wide meeting that we are planning.

The ACS Diversity Statement is:

Statement on Diversity

The American Chemical Society believes that to remain the premier chemical organization that promotes innovation and advances the chemical sciences requires the empowerment of a diverse and inclusive community of highly skilled chemical professionals regardless of race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, presence of disabilities, educational background, and other factors. Chemical scientists rely on the American Chemical Society to promote inclusion and diversity in the discipline.

To enable scientific progress and maintain its global competitive edge, the American Chemical Society remains committed to inspiring and educating the present and future generations of diverse, innovative, and creative chemical professionals. By promoting inclusion and equity to all, the American Chemical Society will succeed in fostering a diverse community of professionals in the chemical sciences who will be the catalyst for transforming the world through their full participation and integration into the chemical professions.

OK what can you do? I have a list of volunteer opportunities that you can do. The NJACS is listed with Volunteer Match and New Jersey Serves. There will be a new service website www.USAservice.org that Colin Powel will be spearheading for volunteers. Agencies will be asked to post their volunteer opportunities and I will be doing that as I do on the other two website.

The North Jersey Section participates in Street Fairs. I have requested that you spend one or two hours on a Saturday or Sunday at the street fair table to represent chemistry to the public . You can also represent your corporation. So you can make a difference!

The ACS has a new course in working with volunteers, but Volunteer Match has a webniar on being a volunteer.
The dates for this course is
New VolunteerMatch Training
How to Be A Great Volunteer
Most people never think about their volunteering as a thing that can (or should) be improved. Posture? Sure. Diet? Absolutely. But volunteering?

You bet! Whether you are new to volunteering or an old hand, there’s a lot to learn about collaborating with a nonprofit. After all, if the goal of your volunteering is to make a difference, a little bit of education and training about how to be a great volunteer could produce a huge impact in the world.

This month VolunteerMatch is proud to announce an expansion of our recently launch live Web training for volunteers. Presented by two experienced volunteer managers, this new “Webinar” series is a unique opportunity for you to ask questions and learn how to be a great volunteer.

Here are a few questions the Webinar will help answer:

What kind of training and screening procedures can you expect at many of today’s nonprofits?

What kind of questions should you ask when you’re considering a volunteer opportunity?

How can you tell whether an organization is a good fit for you and your skills?

How can you use VolunteerMatch more effectively to find a great to volunteer?

Here are the links to sign for the new two Webinars in this series. But hurry! Space is limited:

Tuesday, 1/20, 11AM - 12PM PT
Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/787941284

Thursday, 2/12, 11AM - 12:00PM PT
Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/778768146

So it is a new year, a new President and a new era. I hope that you will decide what you can do in this era.

I am running a meeting about this on February 8th. If you want to find out about the details of the meeting contact me at jebrown@infionline.net. This is Not and ACS meeting, but it is open to scientists who want to make a difference.
Jeannette Brown
North Jersey ACS Publicity Chair

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