For the readers who have journeyed with BranchOut! for the past four years, you know the profound pride we have in the expanding reach of our STEAM youth mentoring program. Had you told us four years ago that it would be presented to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), we may have responded in humble, hopeful laughter. However, through the dedication and strength of our student mentors, we have found our program is reaching places beyond our imaginations.
This past week our very own Dr. Yuhsien Wu and Richard Wang, co-founders of the non-profit BranchOut! Multicultural STEM Mentoring Program, were invited to present to the UNFPA in Beijing. The UNFPA is creating a program similar to BranchOut!, but scaled at the country level. As this is a huge task, they hoped to gain more insight into the program Dr. Wu and Mr. Wang have built here in the U.S.
“They were impressed by what we were able to achieve with limited resources.” explains Dr. Wu.
A sentiment that is often echoed as others learn about a program that has rapidly grown due to the heart and determination of our founders. In addition, our dedicated mentors take pride in the fact that the Non-Profit is largely student lead. This not only creates a space for them to gain lifelong skills in a variety of leadership fields, but gives them ownership in a program that allows them to give back to their communities.
Our founders also shared with the UNFPA how this program has drastically expanded our knowledge about the communities around us.
“We shared what we have learned about American society, thanks to BranchOut! Including how within Fairfax county, supposedly one of the wealthiest counties in the country, the economic background can vary quite dramatically.” This has played a vital role in guiding our students to expand their world views, and embrace a holistic approach to their roles in their local communities.
This invitation extended by the UNFPA also created an opportunity for us to learn more about what they do as an organization. We found that the core of their mission is empowering youth, and providing opportunity at every level of society. With a mission that is so consistently in line with ours, it was an honor to work alongside the UNFPA.
Thank you to all of our mentors, parents, and supporters! What a wonderful thing to see that our call to action is reverberating even as far as Beijing.
Are you interesting in joining BranchOut! for the 2020 summer season?
Applications open: 1/20/2020
Visit www.velbranchout.org for more information!
Below are a few select sides that were shared during the United Nations Population Fund presentation: