February means Men’s Month and the Polished Pebbles’ Non-Traditional Daddy Daughter Dance. We want to celebrate the men in our lives that have supported us and our daughters as we grow.
We want to take the time to learn from such a man, Kevin Brookins. Kevin Brookins is the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Administration at ComEd. ComEd is responsible for providing electricity to about 70% of Illinois’ population. At Polished Pebbles we are no strangers to ComEd. Kelly Fair was honored to be one of their Neighborhood Heroes a couple of years ago. ComEd and EAARA (Exelon African American Resource Alliance) have a commitment to mentoring and supporting youth, especially in STEM fields. Kevin Brookins is also a supporter of Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program and an advocate for African-American youth in Chicago. And let’s not forget the most important factor…a fellow Howard alum and HBCU fan!
As February is Black History Month, ComEd has developed signature events that encourage black youth to find pride in their history and future. They strive to open up opportunities that many African-American youth might not know are available to them. That is the goal of ComEd’s program, Solar Spotlight. This innovative program opens the doors of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields to African-American youth who might not have the opportunity otherwise.
Solar Spotlight partners with other STEM organizations, such as Project Syncere and PUSH Excel George Westinghouse College Prep. They have created a two day experience that allows 40 high school youth to get fired up about STEM and especially solar power. Students from Harper High School in Englewood, Firehouse Community Arts Center in Lawndale, and Auburn High School in Rockford, IL met for the two day solar mentoring experience. Brookins wants to encourage youth to get involved into STEM fields because they are the careers of tomorrow. STEM jobs are growing at a faster rate and pay at a higher rate than other positions. Not only did the high school students get to learn about solar power from engineers, but they also got to build their own solar panels! And Mr. Brookins made sure to point out that the group of young ladies “rocked”! Not only is ComEd providing educational opportunities, but also investing in the future education of these students. They will award more than $10,000 in scholarship funds to the students who participated in Solar Spotlight.
By encouraging youth to get involved in STEM, Brookins is contributing to his community because he wants future generations of African-Americans to be successful and thriving. Schools are cutting programs that could get students interested in STEM at a younger age. He believes that it is the responsibility of the community to come together and provide these opportunities to our youth. More corporations need to make a commitment to our youth, our futures. We need our businessmen and businesswomen to create and support mentoring and educational programs for our youth. We need more corporations like ComEd.
We learn an important lesson from Kevin Brookins. Mentoring doesn’t have to be a year long commitment. A mentoring moment can take place in one day, or in one conversation. With a simple conversation you can show a youth his or her future.