Project SYNCERE, a local nonprofit focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning for youth, will soon celebrate its 10th anniversary since being founded by three African American engineers in 2009. Project SYNCERE will commemorate its 10th anniversary by hosting the inaugural Power of Ten gala on Oct. 10.
“Project SYNCERE is an organization that I started 10 years ago with two friends. We were really interested in figuring out how to get more young people, specifically from underserved communities in Chicago, exposed and excited about careers in engineering,” said Jason Coleman, co-founder and executive director of Project SYNCERE. “10 years ago, STEM wasn’t a very popular subject and it wasn’t the buzz word that it is today. We saw the need for more young people to have opportunities for exposure and to have opportunities to realize that there is a whole world out there where they can be the creators of technology and the things that are changing our world.”
Over the last 10 years, Project SYNCERE has grown to be one of the largest STEM educational providers in Chicago and has a team of over 25 people that serve nearly 4,000 students annually, according to information provided by Project SYNCERE.
All year long, Project SYNCERE operates its E-CADEMY program which offers students an opportunity to bridge their learning from middle school through high school to prepare them for college and entrance into engineering careers, according to information provided by Project SYNCERE.
Additionally, Project SYNCERE launched the ENpowered Games which is an engineering competition for middle schoolers that attracts hundreds of students from Chicago’s south and west side communities each year.
“Growing up, I never knew what an engineer was but I was lucky enough to be able to go to college and be able to study engineering and become an engineer. We really wanted to give more young people those opportunities that we didn’t have,” said Coleman.
Besides exposure to engineering and other STEM careers, Project SYNCERE is unique in that it is led by three black men who have worked as professional engineers. Coleman said growing up, he never saw a black engineer and had very few mentors as he navigated through college and broke into the workforce.
“While working in corporate American for roughly nine years, I was the only African American working on any of my teams and that was a problem for me,” said Coleman. “We created Project SYNCERE to ensure that young people who come from our communities and who look like us have the opportunities to thrive.”
Students who participate in programming provided by Project SYNCERE can see first hand that a career in engineering is attainable for African Americans and receive mentoring from Coleman, the other cofounders, and Project SYNCERE staff members.
“We are three African American men who are really passionate about improving the conditions of our community through education,” said Coleman.