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HBSCNY Volunteers Teach STEM Teachers About Business Skills

NEW YORK, NY (July 20, 2016) -- STEMteachersNYC had an enviable problem. The nonprofit, which is dedicated to cultivating ­ excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) teaching and to promoting- self-confidence and success for students, was growing so fast that the group’s part-time volunteer organizers were having a difficult time keeping up.

That changed when the group’s founder, Fernand Brunschwig, a retired physics professor, met Harvard Business School Club of New York (HBSCNY) member Efrem Sigel, MBA ’68, at the 50th reunion of the Harvard College Class of 1964. Huddled under a tent on a rainy afternoon in Cambridge, the men got to talking about what STEMteachersNYC does and how it could continue to grow while maintaining its commitment to excellence in science education.

Sigel mentioned that the HBSCNY’s Community Partners program offered just the kind of help he was seeking. HBSCNY volunteers, he said, could provide the business and marketing skills that were in short supply among STEMteachersNYC’s board members, all of whom are educators.

A two-hour brainstorming session  eventually followed, at which STEMteachersNYC leaders and HBSCNY members discussed such topics as recruiting high-profile board members, creating an organization chart, and improving the way the group presents itself to its constituencies. “Not only teachers but funders, school boards and others,” Sigel said. “The better they do that, the more teachers they can attract.”

That two-hour meeting evolved into an ongoing marketing and development committee composed of HBSCNY volunteers Jibreel Lockhart, MBA ’05Deirdre Trabert Malacrea, MBA ’87Darren Sumter, MBA ’68, and Sigel. “I’m really amazed how many people find time to volunteer,” Sigel said.

Brunschwig certainly appreciates the help. He said that the committee has brought “the kind of focused, dynamic, professional approach we needed.” He added: “We knew the subject matter and what would appeal to teachers. They (the HBSCNY volunteers) had much more of a view of the possibilities for how a business is organized and how to market ourselves, how to get the word out to the people we’re trying to reach.”

Without the HBSCNY, “it would have been very difficult to maintain our growth,” Brunschwig concluded. “These are very smart, public-spirited, visionary individuals.”

HBSCNY’s insights and advice will soon spread. STEMteachersNYC plans to host an August boot camp for teachers who are seeking to start similar groups elsewhere in the country. Focus will be on organization and administrative stuff, including a lot of ideas from the HBSCNY volunteers. The group also will hold a "friendraiser" reception event at its headquarters on West 107th Street on July 28. They expect about 30 donors, prospects, Board members and teachers, several of whom will talk about how STEMteachersNYC has helped them.  The cocktail-hour reception is open to anyone who’d like to see how a still-small but highly ambitious nonprofit is having a big impact on STEM education.  

“Education for management is no longer only for the for-profit sector,” Sigel said. “Many nonprofits -can benefit from it as well.”

Similar volunteer opportunities are available through the HBSCNY/Communty Partner’s Education Committee, composed of  Charley Beever, MBA ’78, co-chair Margaret Brown, MBA ’84Meg Langan, MBA ’92Margaret Poster, MBA ’76, Sigel and co-chairJessica Ziegler, MBA ’84.

The HBSCNY/Community Partners Education Committee provides alumni the opportunity to apply their passion for education toward strengthening schools and other educational organizations. The breadth of the Committee’s project work has included growth, organizational and board development and strategic challenges that appeal to alumni with interests in traditional and non-traditional learning environments.

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Press Inquiries: Richard Kane or Barry Puritz (media@hbscny.org)

For more information about STEMteachersNYC or its July 28 reception, contact fernand@stemteachersnyc.org.