Success stories
“IYM not only gave me a passion for STEM and inspired my creative work, it gave me a lot more self-confidence (especially when I went to Silicon Valley). Before the 2018 programme I was unsure of why I chose STEM subjects, but now I know truly that it's what I want to do for life and has given me long term goals such as attending Stanford to do a post doc.”   Sophie Miller
Thanks to the support of Rotary New Plymouth North, Janis attended Innovative Young Minds (IYM) in 2017, not sure what she was going to do. Janis is now part way through a mechanical engineering apprenticeship, has attended District 9940 RYLA, is establishing a Rotaract Club in her hometown and is coming back to IYM as a facilitator and Camp Sister. 

This is just one alumna story of many that attest to the value of the Innovative Young Minds programme.

Rotarians are creative, innovative problem-solvers. In 2016, Rotary Hutt City was looking for a new project that positively impacted young people and bought an economic benefit to the region. In consultation with schools, the business community and research organisations it was clear there was a need for greater diversity in the STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and high-tech manufacturing) sector where women are woefully underrepresented. 
Rotary Hutt City partnered with Hutt City Council and Innovative Young Minds, a local programme for 40 young women in year 11 and 12 at school, was established.

Its aim—to encourage young women from diverse geographic, economic and cultural backgrounds to consider careers they may not know even exist!
The future of work has changed. Linear careers are becoming a thing of the past. Employers want people who can problem-solve, have courageous conversations, be curious, adapt and be empathetic. STEMM is directed at advancing these skills.

The success of IYM in the first two years led Rotary Hutt City to expand the programme. In 2019, IYM was extended nationwide and Rotary Clubs across New Zealand were encouraged to sponsor students to attend. The Innovative Young Minds Charitable Trust was established, and our alumnae programme grew to include a trip to Silicon Valley.
IYM is held in two sessions during the July school holidays. Students are hosted by local engineering and technology businesses and visit research and tertiary institutes. They explore a range of STEMM activities through hands-on experiences, interact with women from the STEMM sector who share their personal journeys, complete an innovation challenge and learn to network and mix and mingle with industry representatives at a formal parliamentary reception.

It is through the generous support of Rotary clubs across New Zealand that we can make this programme affordable and accessible to students from ALL walks of life. 

Plans for further expansion of IYM continue under the leadership and governance of the IYM Trust Board.
(This article first appeared in Rotary DownUnder, April 2020)