IPAA Op-ed: A Bridge Between the Energy Sector and Education

For more than 15 years, IPAA’s Energy Education Center has facilitated programs such as camps, field trips, competitions, career conferences, teacher training and an extern program.

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Back in 2006, the team at the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) started out small with an initial idea on how it could make a difference in education. The IPAA Educational Foundation began with one high school in east Houston, and 15 years later, it has reached more than 20,000 students in 163 schools and 87 school districts around the U.S.

We’re proud of the diverse students, both economically and geographically, that we’re empowering with our programs. Our pre-pandemic stats are as follows: 61% Hispanic, 26% Black, 8% White and 3% Asian, with 41% of those being female. While COVID-19 has shaken the industry in many ways, it has allowed us to reach an even wider and more diverse group from the standpoint of our programs, as we were forced to virtually connect with educators and students. For me, that’s really been the silver lining through all of this. The longstanding relationship we built with educators allowed us to provide them with what they needed when it mattered most.

What is the ‘why’ behind our outreach to students? It really comes down to ensuring the energy industry attracts the brightest minds over the next decade as the number of jobs in STEM industries, including oil and natural gas and renewables, is expected to grow 50% faster than in non-STEM industries. Our outreach to students empowers them to take control of their future by reassuring them that they belong in our industry while simultaneously introducing them to available careers and encouraging them to reach high to achieve their dreams.

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