How it began
YMWIC began with an idea generated by its founder and President, Mr. Richard Roberts, III. As a young engineering student at Widener College, Richard took note that there were not very many young men of color in his program of study. As a professional in the engineering field, he also found that colleagues from historically underrepresented groups were few and far between. He began to formulate a concept: a program that would support African American and Latino males to develop their academic skills and gain the social supports they would need to be successful in college and in their careers.
In 2007, YMIC became incorporated, and in 2010, received its 501(c3) nonprofit certification to provide services to youth in 5th through 12th grades in Philadelphia and suburban communities. The inaugural class of 18 male Scholars began the West Chester chapter in the fall of that year. During the 2013-2014 program year, YMIC opened its doors to young women and began doing business as Young Men and Women In Charge (YMWIC) Foundation, Inc., to provide STEM-related development and leadership activities for young men and young women.
YMWIC’s Mission is to empower and prepare economically disadvantaged and historically underrepresented youth to excel and become leaders in STEM careers through a structured and rigorous curriculum, academic tutoring, mentoring and financial assistance programs, accomplished by leveraging alliances with K-12 school districts, universities, corporations, and the Foundation’s committed partners. This Mission is accomplished by embracing a Family Model that provides individually-targeted and wrap-around services that include academic support and tutoring, leadership development, scientific research training, public speaking, community and civic service, junior mentoring, college readiness, SAT Prep courses, college tours, industry experiences in many STEM-related careers, and emotional and mental health support. Scholars may participate in YMWIC Special Interest Groups (SIGs), such as the Young Scholar Leadership Team (YSLT), Robotics Team, Jazz Ensemble, Choir, and Coaching from personal mentors in STEM professions. Additionally, YMWIC’s STEM-based Summer Enrichment Programs serve our Scholars as well as hundreds of students in Grades 1 through 12 through the Elementary STEAM and Language Arts Camp, Middle School STEM Leadership Residential Camp, and the High School Upward Bound Camp.
Once enrolled in the organization, each young Scholar and his or her family become part of the YMWIC family. They make a commitment to remain as active participants in the Foundation until high school graduation, to participate fully in program activities, and maintain a high-grade point average.
While in college, thanks to the commitment of YMWIC’s corporate and university partners, each Scholar alum who maintains the Foundation’s academic requirements and standards is eligible to receive scholarship support and participate in internships based on their college majors that will prepare them for STEM careers or other professional careers.
Learn how to become a scholar
YMWIC Foundation, Inc., offers five academic Scholar groups for students in Grades 3 through 12. Aligned with the Foundation’s Mission, Scholar groups and activities aim to bridge the gap between academic study and real life by providing opportunities, projects, and challenges that simulate real-world activities.
The Future Stars, Pluto, and Neptune Scholar Programs are designed to increase students’ appreciation for math and science through hands-on projects that demonstrate the fun and challenging side of these subjects. Technical workshops in STEM are administered by staff or partners so Scholars can gain deeper insight and exposure to these careers and opportunities. Jupiter and Saturn Scholars participate in more leadership, college, and career-readiness activities as they prepare to transition to their post high school pathways. All Scholars complete scientific research projects to prepare them for the rigor of the STEM undergraduate curriculum. By embracing the YMWIC Credo, each Scholar is reminded about accountability and the importance of giving back.
Learn more about our programs
Today, YMWIC has chapters in Philadelphia and seven chapters in its suburbs which include West Chester, Norristown, Coatesville, Upper Darby, William Penn, Phoenixville, and Chester Upland. Included in the many funding sources YMWIC receives is the U.S. Department of Education’s TRIO Upward Bound grant for first-generation college-attending, low-income, and at-risk students, which allows us to reach even more youth in the Coatesville and Upper Darby school districts. To date, YMWIC is serving more than 200 Scholars and has over 60 alum, all of whom have or are currently earning their undergraduate degrees, continuing post-graduate studies, or pursuing a professional career after graduating from college. We are proud to report that most of our college graduates are enjoying success in a STEM career and some are graduating early or in four years.
The efforts of Richard and the services from YMWIC have given many families hope by knowing that college and these careers are within reach for their children. The Community Model is implemented through partnerships with corporations, universities, and other nonprofit and community organizations. These partners participate in all levels of the program. The goal is to implement this Community-Based Model in all school districts across the country that have significant numbers of underperforming students. This accomplishment will make a significant impact on the achievement gap among African American and Latino youth in math and science, increase the number of women in STEM, and improve economic development through these youth as they are positioned to secure higher-paying jobs in their communities.