When Delores Williams became the sole caregiver for her grandchildren, Najah, 4, and Khalil, 2, in 2000, she was in the midst of a successful corporate career with 20 years of experience in the IT field. But she knew immediately that she wanted to stay closer to home to help raise the kids.
With her grandchildren as her inspiration, Williams decided to found the nonprofit Millionaire Mind Kids in 2005 to help inspire and guide underserved children in the High Desert area of San Bernardino County to learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, robotics and financial literacy.
Now, almost a decade later, the nonprofit has helped more than 2,500 underserved students from ages 9 through 21 be inspired to succeed in the 21st century workforce.
“We want to let kids know that it’s cool to be smart,” said Williams. “Most of the kids in our programs are underserved, excluded from some of the school technology programs that target higher-performing, engaged students. We keep them out of trouble and academically engaged.”
For the past four years, Edison International has provided grants to Millionaire Mind Kids, helping to support the nonprofit’s numerous programs that include: the U.S. First robotics training and team competitions, STEM and aviation day camps, financial literacy education and youth leadership academies.
This year, Edison provided a grant of $7,500 to the nonprofit.
“Delores is a trailblazer for low-income kids who don’t have the opportunity or don’t think they can do it,” said Nancy Jackson, SCE region manager for San Bernardino County, who first met Williams a few years back at one of the utility’s community forums. “She reaches the youth who would have otherwise fallen through the cracks.”
Over a ten-year period (2008-2018), STEM-related jobs will grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM occupations, according to data from the STEM Education Coalition. STEM jobholders also earn about 11 percent higher pay than their same-degree counterparts in other jobs. The top 10 bachelor-degree majors with the highest average earnings were all in the STEM fields.
These figures drive Williams to continue to provide students at Millionaire Mind Kids the foundation to succeed in the various STEM-related fields.
“To be able to thrive in the 21st century work force, STEM is a huge career market, and technology is here to stay,” she said. “I would encourage youth to look at these types of careers.”
As it turns out, Williams’ grandchildren were not only the inspiration for Millionaire Mind Kids, they are examples of the success of the nonprofit’s programs. Najah will be heading to Howard University this fall on a full scholarship to pursue a degree in biochemistry. Khalil, a high school junior, is still trying to decide between various universities, but also plans to pursue biochemistry with an emphasis in medicine.
“These are kids who were supposedly going to be low-performing kids,” said Williams. “We encourage our kids to be the best people they can be. We live to see them exceed their potential.”
And she thanks corporations like Edison International for continuing to fund Millionaire Mind Kids where all the classes are offered free to its students.
“Without their funding, we would not exist,” said Williams.
“We see a lot of our funds go to urban areas, but I’m excited to see that we are supporting organizations in these regions too,” said Jackson. “This support in the High Desert really speaks to Edison’s support of STEM education.”
For more information about Millionaire Mind Kids, visit: mmk4u.com.