GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - The East Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America announced their new STEM program Thursday.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The program is directed at keeping minority youth off the streets and in the classroom.
ECC Boy Scout officials say out of the 20 counties they serve, Pitt County has the highest number of at-risk youth. "A lot of time they're in the streets, they're involved in a lot of negativity," said Gwangi Shipp, ECC BSA Director of Multicultural Programs.
Shipp has been traveling around Pitt county, talking to parents, in the hope of getting their children involved. "I've seen the parents, and I've looked into their eyes and there's a lot of potential. A whole lot of potential in these areas," said Shipp.
"We're going to serve 250 more kids this year and then grow it from there," said ECC BSA CEO Ray Franks. They hope to organize groups of about 20 youth, ages 6 through 10 to meet weekly for 1.5 hours after school.
Shipp says there's "nothing like seeing a young person come into the scouting program and take heed to what we have to offer them."
STEM teachings will be combined with traditional scout ideals. Therefore, participants will gain real-world experience both in and outside the classroom.
The STEM program is being started in the area because BSA officials say they've seen a drop in white children getting involved with scouts and an increase in African American and Hispanic youth.
This STEM program is not the first of it's kind. Officials say 75% of parents with children in a STEM program say they've seen an increase in their child's school performance. 65% of parents agreed that their children have shown behavioral improvements.
Click here to learn more about the STEM program.