March 27, 2015

Believe in Ohio Program to Establish Urban STEM Network

As part of its “All Hands on Deck” Inclusive Competitiveness strategy to reach all Ohio high school students, the Believe in Ohio (BiO) program of The Ohio Academy of Science today launched a statewide campaign to create the Urban STEM Mentor Network. Inclusive Competitiveness is an interdisciplinary framework of policies, strategies, practices and metrics to improve the performance of underrepresented Americans in the Innovation Economy.

The Urban STEM Mentor Network will support Ohio’s next generation of innovators to create new products, services and jobs through the application of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). BiO is the only statewide Ohio student education program to integrate entrepreneurship and innovation as pathways to job-creation.

Based on the principle of “Each One Teach One,” over the next six months, beginning in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati, the BiO Urban STEM Mentor Network campaign will recruit mentors from African American, Hispanic and other STEM business professionals and entrepreneurs, educators and college and university students. The goal is to increase dramatically the number of mentors in Ohio’s urban areas for the 2015-2016 school year.
Dr. Julian Earls
If our state and country are going to continue to be prosperous, then all parts of our society need opportunities to become innovators and competitors in today’s Innovation Economy, including youth in Ohio’s urban areas,” said Dr. Julian M. Earls, Retired Director of NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and lifelong mentor and advocate for minority STEM education.

For that to happen, however, we need accomplished African Americans, Hispanics and others in STEM from all over Ohio to serve as inspirational role models and mentors for our urban youth,” continued Dr. Earls, who is also President of Entrepreneurial Engagement Ohio, the collaborative partner with The Ohio Academy of Science of Ohio in the development of the Believe in Ohio program. “Students can be successful when they see people ‘who look like them’ who have made successes of themselves and are willing to help them.”

For the sake of our children, their children, and our state, it is critical that this initiative be successful. To that end, we have assembled an extraordinary leadership team of community leaders to galvanize support across the state,” added Dr. Earls.

Mr. Johnathan Holifield ( is overall statewide director and coordinator for Believe in Ohio’s Urban STEM Mentor Network and served as subject matter expert for the Ohio Board of Regents Subcommittee on Inclusive Competitiveness. Mr. Holifield helped develop the BiO program and is a nationally recognized leader of Inclusive Competitiveness. He was founding Executive Director of CincyTech in Cincinnati, former Vice President for Inclusive Competitiveness at NorTech in Cleveland, and a founding partner of Scale Up Partners, a national Inclusive Competitiveness consultancy.

Ms. Mary McWilliams ( is the Columbus Metro Inclusive Competitiveness Coordinator for Believe in Ohio’s Urban STEM Mentor Network. Ms. McWilliams is Electronics Engineer Team Leader for the Defense Logistics Agency of the Department of Defense, and Chair-Elect of the Professional Executive Board of the National Society of Black Engineers.

Mr. Wayne Hicks ( is the Cincinnati Metro Inclusive Competitiveness Coordinator for Believe in Ohio’s Urban STEM Mentor Network. Mr. Hicks is Executive Director of the Black Data Processing Associate Education & Technology Foundation, and the owner of Hicks Enterprises consulting firm in Cincinnati.

Dr. Bilal Bomani ( is Cleveland Metro Inclusive Competiveness Coordinator for Believe in Ohio’s Urban STEM Mentor Network. Dr. Bomani is a Senior Research Scientist whose work has been featured in a TED talk.  He is Vice President of the National Technical Association – Cleveland Chapter that focuses on STEM opportunities in the Cleveland, Ohio area.

Click here to see the full bios and photos of these coordinators.
    Throughout my professional life, in the spirit of “Each One Teach One”, I have reached out at every opportunity to young people to encourage and mentor them to pursue careers in Science and Technology”, stated Dr. Earls. “Now, I am calling on my younger peers to do the same.”
    The Ohio Academy of Science and Entrepreneurial Engagement Ohio developed the program entitled Believe In Ohio, A STEM Bridge to Ohio’s Innovation Economy of the Future, with support from The Ohio General Assembly and The Ohio Board of Regents. More information is available at

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