CHICAGO, Feb. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- ComEd's fifth-annual Black History Month Solar Spotlight continues this weekend as African-American high school students from across northern Illinois come together to learn about solar energy and future opportunities in STEM. On Saturday, Feb. 15 at Illinois Tech, students will continue working side by side with ComEd mentors and executives in hands-on activities that show how solar energy can make a difference in the world.
"We use innovation and inclusivity to help solve problems in our communities, power our society and shape the future of our planet," said Joe Dominguez, CEO of ComEd. "Our youth are our most valuable resource as we take on new challenges in a changing world. Solar Spotlight is designed to empower students in their STEM interests and be a force for positive impact in the world."
Through a custom STEM curriculum and collaboration with We Share Solar, students will build portable suitcases that provide backup power for lights, cell phones and computers during emergencies. The suitcases will be sent with personal notes from the students to Kenya and The Bahamas, where communities continue to struggle to access basic resources, including power, following the devastation of Hurricane Dorian in September 2019.
Power was wiped out across the Grand Bahama and Abaco islands as a result of the storm, affecting thousands of people. According to recent reports, power is not expected to be fully restored on the islands until early summer.
"As Bahamians continue to rebuild from one of the worst natural disasters in the country's history, it puts into perspective myriad challenges we are facing all over the world," said ComEd Director of External Affairs, Southern Region, and Bahamas Honorary Consul Michael Fountain. "Through ComEd's Black History Month Solar Spotlight, we are helping teach students key principles to carry forward—both with the STEM training they're receiving and understanding of solar energy as a renewable resource, as well as what it means to be part of a global community and the important roles they can play with their future."
Solar Spotlight is one of several programs ComEd has created to engage the next generation of local STEM talent and increase diversity in those fields. While demand for STEM professionals is growing in Illinois, African-Americans remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce. In 2018, African-Americans held less than 5 percent of STEM jobs in Illinois, despite making up more than 14 percent of the state's population, according to the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition.
More than 200 students have participated in the ComEd Solar Spotlight program for Black History Month over the past four years. It is the first in a series of STEM programs that ComEd leads each year. In the summer, ComEd's Icebox Derby will challenge Chicagoland girls to turn recycled fridges into electric racecars, and in September, ComEd will host a second Solar Spotlight program during Hispanic Heritage Month.
For more information, visit ComEd.com/SolarSpotlight.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 100 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.