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114 Local Teens Complete ComEd, After School Matters Youth Ambassador Program

For the past decade, summer enrichment program has helped spark an interest in STEM, clean energy careers among Chicago youth

CHICAGO (Aug. 16, 2022) – ComEd and After School Matters are celebrating the 10th year of the Youth Ambassador Program, which exposes teenagers in Chicago to STEM and clean energy career opportunities. This summer, 114 local teens participated in a five-week, hybrid program where they had opportunities to network with ComEd professionals, learn about clean energy technologies and apply those lessons to a variety of projects, including solar panel installations and building solar powered phone chargers.

"The world is changing quickly, and the young people who participate in this program are on the path to become future STEM leaders," said Diana Sharpe, Vice President of Large Customer Operations and Head of Workforce Development at ComEd. "Through the Youth Ambassadors program, Chicago area teens have a front row seat at learning about the new clean energy technologies that are central to our region's clean energy future. Our partnerships with After School Matters and other area agencies are essential to recruiting young, diverse talent who will play a key role in building a clean energy future that benefits us all."

Since the program first launched in 2013, nearly 1,000 local teens have completed the ComEd Youth Ambassador course. The Youth Ambassador program is one example of the myriad education and job training programs ComEd supports to help meet future demand for skilled clean energy workers in Illinois.

This year's course culminated in the participants applying the clean energy, math and science concepts they learned throughout the program to install a solar panel on the roof of a home, determining the best positioning to maximize its effectiveness.

"We are proud to partner with ComEd to present programs that allow our teens to explore opportunities and career paths in renewable energy," said Mary Ellen Caron, CEO at After School Matters. "Our young people deserve to know every option available to them as they decide on their future careers."

Over the years, the program has helped local high schoolers master clean energy concepts. To be accepted into the program, a teen must apply through After School Matters and interview with Youth Ambassador instructors to gauge their interest in learning more about STEM and confirming their availability for the duration of the program session. Students who complete the five-week course receive a stipend of $725, with a $100 bonus for perfect attendance from ComEd. Participants in the 2022 program reside throughout Chicago.

Many program participants have gone on to pursue STEM college coursework and secure jobs in the STEM and clean energy fields. One program alum, Thomas Bittings Jr., participated in ComEd's Youth Ambassador program in 2018, igniting his interest in a STEM career. Bittings is a graduate of Horizon Science Academy in McKinley Park, and now a rising sophomore at Morehouse College, an Historically Black College and University (HBCU), majoring in electrical engineering. This summer, he returned to the program as an instructor to inspire the next generation of teen STEM leaders.

"When counselors and teachers asked me to think about things I've enjoyed, and whether that could become a career, I would always thing of the time I spent soldering and building a solar house in the ComEd Youth Ambassadors program," said Bittings. "I enjoyed being able to lean into my creative side, and the lessons I learned in the program have helped me every day since. Now as an instructor in the program, I am able to provide teens with the same experience and revelation that I had: that even though engineering is a field where not many black and brown students can see representation, it is still a field you can enter and thrive."

Ensuring STEM opportunities are in place for youth across the region is a key focus for ComEd, as it works to close a gap seen nationally in the STEM industry, where women and minorities are grossly underrepresented; while also ensuring that a future workforce represent the diversity and vibrancy of the local communities served across Chicago and northern Illinois. To expand pathways to careers in STEM to students from across the region, ComEd has developed partnerships with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to provide trades training through the Chicago Builds program, invested in numerous college scholarship programs and created a host of STEM activities serving upwards of thousands of school-aged youth per year, including STEM build days during Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and Women's History Month and an EV Rally competition which provides young women the opportunity to build and race electric vehicles.

ComEd's Youth Ambassador program is offered in the Chicago neighborhoods of Belmont Craigin, Bronzeville, Gage Park, Pullman and Washington Park. Details on how to apply can be found at: AfterSchoolMatters.org/Programs. For more on workforce and education opportunities provided at ComEd, please visit comed.com/workforce.

About After School Matters
After School Matters is a nonprofit organization that provides after-school and summer opportunities to Chicago public high school teens to explore their passions and develop their talents, while gaining critical skills for work, college, and beyond. After School Matters programs are project-based, led by industry experts, and provide a pathway to progress in skills development and independence. Teens earn a stipend while participating in programs in the arts, communications and leadership, sports, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Over the span of three decades, After School Matters has engaged more than 350,000 teens throughout the city of Chicago. Learn more about After School Matters at afterschoolmatters.org.

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ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 200 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


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