This program has a brilliant plan for bringing diversity to the world of STEM.

When Dr. Jennifer R. Cohen was running as a molecular biologist, she often wondered why no one else in her sector looked like her.

As a black female, Cohen is not the typical face you’d see in a biochemistry lab. The sad reality is science and technology careers are still predominately assumed by white humen even though there is a large reservoir of untapped talent among women and people of color.

The reason for the gap seems to lie in a lack of resources to help talented but underrepresented students reach higher academic levels. While some colleges are currently looking to diversify, it’s often difficult for these students to get on their radar without some sort of assistance.

Cohen knew how much underrepresented talent there was out there just waiting to realize their full potential, so she joined the SMASH program.

SMASH, or Summer Math and Science Honors, is a subsection of the nonprofit organization Level the Playing Field Institute. It’s a rigorous, three-year summertime program that provides sets and resources to students who are underrepresented in STEM fields( science, technology, engineering, and math) free of charge . The courses take place at colleges, like UCLA and UC Berkeley, the hell is leading the style in these fields.

By throwing these students headfirst into an environment stocked with resources, SMASH is dedicating them all they need to totally “own” STEM .

Students learning computer science in the SMASH University of California at Davis program. All photos via SMASH.

The movement, however, is not just about bolstering science abilities. It’s about creating a pipeline into colleges that will help students launch a life seeking some of the coolest, most sought-after and most impactful STEM-related careers out there.

But they have to get in first.

Aside from helping to eliminate the barriers to a college degree and subsequent career, SMASH’s teachers are doing all they can to give their students confidence. The STEM fields aren’t precisely handing out postures to women and people of color, so they’ll need all the conviction they have to get ahead.

UCLA’s SMASH program, for example, is brimming with teachers who are women of colouring, and experts in their fields. Pre-calculus instructor Patrice Smith got her Bachelor of Science from UCLA in Mathematics/ Applied Science and specializations in Business Administration and Computing. Having role models like her likely promotes the 53% of young women who inhabit the UCLA program.

Students at SMASH UC Berkeley working in a lab.

“We help them to see that they belong and that they have what it takes so there’s no question in their intellects that they can be successful, ” Cohen explains.

Having been the only female of color in the room , Cohen feels she can be especially helpful to the young women in SMASH. Her experience working in STEM shines a light on the inequality and need for change.

But, thanks to SMASH, change is happening, and its students are strolling, dissecting, coding, algorithm-solving proof.

Leilani Reyes at SMASH Stanford.

Leilani Reyes, a first-generation college student from Fairfield, California, is analyse computer science at Stanford University and was lately a software engineer intern at Medium. She’s eternally grateful to SMASH for opening up this world of opportunity to her.

“Academically, it granted me rigor and, more importantly, subsistence from teachers and staff who empowered me to be curious and socially conscious in STEM exploration , ” writes Reyes in an email. “Professionally, it granted me resources to develop essential skills like public speaking and a link with mentors and role model who I look to for advice and inspiration.”

Michael Pearson, who attended SMASH UCLA, blossomed into one of the most accomplished computer science students, often helping others with their homework after finishing his own. He’s now pursuing a career in Cognitive and Computer Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

And Thomas Estrada, who went through SMASH UC Berkeley, was awarded the Regent and Chancellor’s Scholarship, which helped fund his undergraduate tuition there. He majored in computer science, and is now pursuing his doctorate. This summer, he landed a coveted internship with Google.

Moises Limon, a first year at SMASH UC Berkeley.

In words of overall numbers, 78% of SMASH students proclaim STEM majors as freshman and 79% of that percentage alumnu with a STEM major. That’s huge compared to the national average of STEM alumnus, simply 22%. Obviously the program is doing something right.

In the last 17 years, SMASH has helped over 500 graduates hit their academic and career goals.

The program is rapidly expanding into their own nationals organization. One of the first east coast schools they’re partnering with is the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. There’s no telling how far SMASH’s influence will go now.

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Theres a surprising science behind making friends, and this psychologist is teaching it.

Imagine if someone jumped into your conversation at a party without an introduction, interrupting you mid-sentence.

That might strike you as odd or rude. But when we dedicate person the simple advice to “just go up and introduce yourself, ” we’re skipping many of the nonverbal steps important to making a good impression.

For most, connecting with other people relies on intuition. However , social interactions of all sorts — from just saying “hello” to a new acquaintance to interviewing for a new job — can be challenging. For people with autism, it can be even more difficult to know how to strike up that first conversation .

Image via iStock.

That’s why UCLA psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson induced it her mission to help.

Through her work at the Semel Institute and her work with Fred Frankel in 2005, she generated a programme designed that helps young adults with social challenges, such as those on the autism spectrum, make and keep friends by breaking down social interactions into easy-to-follow steps.

This program, “ve called the” Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills( PEERS ), teaches them how to listen, interact, and communicate with others.

Photo from UCLA PEERS via AP.

“We want to teach to the style that[ people with autism] think. What works? Concrete rules and steps, ” Laugeson explains.

Most people pick up on social cues, like body language and facial expressions, quite naturally. But many people with autism struggle with abstract thinking. Concrete communication works best for many, in agreement with the Indiana Research Center for Autism.

That’s why, Laugeson explains, the first step is actually about learning to listen before leap in.

“The first step is that you’d watch the conversation and kind of listen to the conversation, ” she explains.

Image via iStock.

Some of us might use a prop, like a cellphone, to looking confused while listening to a dialogue we’re thinking about joining. We’ll spend this time eavesdropping for a common interest.

Next, we might move closer to the conversation, waiting for a pause to jump in with something on topic. Of course, this process involves be seen whether the person or persons or group is interested in talking to us.

Introductions usually don’t come until mid-conversation, Laugeson says . This is why “just go up and say hello” may not the best advice, especially for people who struggle to pick up on subtle cues.

There are social subtleties that go beyond first interactions, too, and the curriculum at PEERS addresses many of them.

UCLA PEERS also teaches students how to deal with conflict and bullying, for example.

Individuals with autism are especially vulnerable to bully. The Interactive Autism Network found in a study that 63% of children ages 6 to 15 with autism spectrum disorder have experienced bullying.

Image via iStock.

This is another area where neurotypical people may give ineffective advice. People usually indicate dealing with taunting in one of three styles: ignore the bully, walk away, or tell an adult. But these strategies don’t always work, Laugeson says.

“These answers often make it worse for the main victims and not better, ” she explains.

During a bully situation, a neurotypical person will usually react with a short, dismissive comeback. A casual “whatever” or “Is that supposed to be funny? ” can construct the aggressor’s comments seem bearing .

This is a great way to show the ability to stand up for one’s ego while diffusing the situation and avoiding more confrontation. Laugeson teaches this tactic in PEERS to her students, helping them deal with pestering in a way others might naturally react.

Image via iStock.

These are just a few routes that PEERS helps students who struggle socially.

Since 2005, PEERS has expanded from UCLA to locatings across the country and throughout the world.

The PEERS method can also help preschoolers, teens, and young adults with ADHD, anxiety, depression, and other socio-emotional problems too .

And it’s more accessible than ever, thanks to her book, “The Science of Making Friends, “ and an app called FriendMaker, which acts as a virtual coach for social the status and includes role-playing exercisings for making and maintaining friends.

Friendship is a critical part of mental health, though it’s easy to take this for granted.

This is why programs like UCLA PEERS are so important, particularly for individuals who can’t easily navigate social situations .

According to the Mayo Clinic, friendships can boost happiness, foster a healthy lifestyle, reduce stress, improve self-confidence, help in coping with trauma, and much more.

Laugeson teaching social skills at a PEERS group. Image from UCLA PEERS via AP.

Laugeson shared a narrative of a student who had been in and out of psychiatric units with a long history of mental health issues. The young man had tried many drugs by the time he joined PEERS.

“This was a kid who had been highly medicated over the years. He came to me at graduation and he told me friendship was the best medicine for him, ” Laugeson recounted. “It utterly can change a life to have a friend.”

PEERS has helped numerous students like him , not only in building friends, but in attending college, get chores, and even embarking on romantic relationships .

For the past 12 years, the skills taught at PEERS have helped improve the lives of thousands of people all over the world. For a skill set that’s so rarely taught, it’s transformative to construct the art of friendship a little more accessible for those who need it.

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This campaign is recognizing incredible innovators fighting for social change.

A solution for food waste and hunger, get undocumented immigrants citizenship, an anti-cyberbullying app — these are things the world desperately requires.

And thanks to a handful of social innovators, we now have them.

The minds behind the technology and programs above have been named in the class of 2017 Tech Impact AllStars by the social impact media company NationSwell and Comcast NBCUniversal .

“The main goal is to find and uplift the everyday heroes who are changing their communities and slowly but surely, changing the nation and the world, ” writes Greg Behrman, CEO and Founder of NationSwell. “These are the people in your neighborhood who feel a flame in their belly to solve challenging social issues.”

( From left) Seth Flaxman, Zakiya Harris, and Riku Sen. Images via NationSwell.

Two years ago, NationSwell partnered with Comcast NBCUniversal to start recognizing these technology trailblazers for their endeavors and give them a leg up on their path. Comcast NBCUniversal is playing a defining role in shaping the future of media and technology, and believes social invention like the Tech Impact AllStars Campaign is good for communities.

Together with NationSwell, they’ve endorsed some extraordinary talent that more than deserves “members attention” 😛 TAGEND

But they also need your endorsement to be honored. You can vote for your favorite 2017 Tech Impact AllStars from Oct. 2 through Nov. 2 by clicking here.

Today, technology is often the power behind grand-scale social impact projects. That’s why Tech Impact AllStars are employing it to solve major problems.

Raj Karmani speaks about his company, Zero Percent. Photo via NationSwell.

“[ Technology] was more important than ever before, and it’s changing the style we approach age-old issues, ” Behrman explains. “Technology provides the ability to scale answers in extraordinary and rapid ways.”

“Technology innovation is the fuel that moves our business forward, ” writes Jessica Clancy, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility at Comcast NBCUniversal, in an email. “We also believe it has unsurpassed power to solve complex social issues and improve communities.”

The program specifically acknowledges up-and-coming social innovators from unbelievably diverse backgrounds, and the hope is that the recognition they receive as Tech Impact AllStars will propel their mission so that they can make an even greater impact.

“We’ve seen past AllStars graduate from the program and receive new funding or corporate partners, additional coverage on platforms like Nightline, NPR,+ TED , and increased visibility and interest, helping them scale the performance of their duties and do more good , ” writes Emily Chong, senior vice president at NationSwell.

If your social impact attempts utilize tech in some manner and you’re domestically-based, you can be nominated to be a Tech Impact AllStar.

Karen Washington of Black Urban Growers. Photo via NationSwell.

For example, Karen Washington started Black Urban Growers to foster principally black communities to help turn vacant urban lots in the Bronx into thriving gardens.

In a somewhat different vein, Rose Broome generated an online crowdsourcing platform called HandUp that solicits gifts for homeless and at-risk people.

Neither endeavor would be possible if Washington and Broome weren’t adept at utilizing technology to inspire people to do good.

And they’re simply two examples of a ever-expanding population of Tech Impact AllStars.

Every year, the program has grown exponentially, both in visibility and the number of nominations.

Raj Karmani, a recipient of the Tech Impact Award, with the NationSwell crew. Photo via NationSwell.

Obviously the tech impact world appreciates the boost . Since 2015, there’s been a 70% increased number of Tech Impact AllStars nominations. What’s more, positions of this particular group’s content has increased by 500,000, so finalists are indeed get a considerable amount of notice that no doubt draws greater attention to their missions.

“As the program grows, each Tech Impact AllStars class becomes more competitive, more incredible and makes greater visibility and impact for them and their answer, ” Chong writes.

It’s understandable given all the things they will receive. All finalists get a three- to five-minute video about the performance of their duties made by NationSwell producers, a feature article to accompany it, an all-expense-paid journey to New York City, where they’ll be given a speaking slot at the NationSwell Summit of Solutions, and the chance to win the Tech Impact Award — a $10,000 grant to help further the performance of their duties .

Social innovators like these are exactly who this country wants right now to help bring opportunities to those who are struggling.

AllStar Zakiya Harris, co-founder of Hack the Hood. Photo via NationSwell.

“These are the innovations and the solutions that we’ll need to build our country a more equitable, inclusively prosperous place, and to have more people feel like the American dreaming is within their reach as well, ” Behrman writes.

Organizations like NationSwell and Comcast NBCUniversal are doing what they can to elevate the creators of these life-changing endeavors so that they’ll reach as many people in need as possible.

These brilliant ideas can change the world as long as people know about them. Thanks to technology and solution-driven companies, many more people will.

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This Dallas restaurant is a favorite among foodies. The secret sauce? Its unique staff.

Before 18 -year-old Dayton Swift was cooking at one of the most wonderful eateries in Dallas, “hes in” a juvenile detention facility.

Swift became homeless at the age of 15, and as a result, he started to commit felonies — a common pattern for people trying to get by the streets.

“I had to steal. I had to kick into people’s homes, ” Swift remembers. “I then got up to phases where I had to rob people.”

Sure enough, he wound up in adolescent detention along with a number of other teens who found themselves in the same cycle. However, thanks to chef Chad Houser and his eatery Cafe Momentum, Swift was given a chance to escape that cycle through a passion he didn’t even know he had.

Dayton Swift at Cafe Momentum. All photos via Upworthy/ Starbucks.

Cafe Momentum is both a restaurant and culinary train facility for former juvenile offenders.

Houser, who now owns Momentum, was once co-owner of the popular Parigi Restaurant and winning a number of commendations when its own experience at a juvenile facility took him in an entirely new culinary direction.

He was there teaching the children how to induce ice cream for an upcoming ice cream competitor, and he immediately recognized incredible talent in one of them. Simultaneously, he realized that when the son was released, he’d be heading back to the same neighborhood that had led him to a life of crime.

Houser decided to pivot his successful cooking career toward an endeavor that would give juvenile offenders a shot at living a better life.

Houser teaching his interns.

“I was betting my entire career on taking children out of jail and teaching’ em play games with knives and fire, ” Houser jokes.

The 12 -month internship program not only teaches former juvenile offenders how to work in a restaurant, it offers mentorship, job, and life-skill training. It also provides them with an encouraging surrounding while they’re readjusting to life outside a juvenile facility. For Swift, that’s one of the best aspects of Momentum.

“It’s a family. I feel like I have the worst day and I can come in here and be crying and like broken down to tears, and they can help me and lift me up, ” Swift says.

Swift in the restaurant.

The restaurant began as a series of pop-up dinners in 2012 and finally put down brick-and-mortar roots in 2015. It’s been a hit with the food-obsessed Dallas clientele ever since.

Beyond making good food, the restaurant is offer stability for its students and keeping them from reoffending.

One of the interns at Cafe Momentum

While a large percentage of juvenile offenders in Texas wind up in jail, Cafe Momentum’s reduced the rate for its interns to 15%. It just goes to show how life-changing the offer of a different route can be.

Obviously it’s made all the difference to Swift.

“I started realise, like, dang — I love this, ” Swift says. “Even though I get burns and grease marks from all the cooking, I merely love. I love it.”

Success narratives like Swift’s are why Houser believes Momentum’s mission could have a lasting effect on Dallas as a whole.

“We have children who aren’t just stabilization for themselves but for their entire household. That’s transgressing generational cycles, which becomes transformative for our community and our society.”

Learn more about Cafe Momentum’s work here :