Ask businessman Wayne Wilhelm, chairman of the board of Annapolis Junction-based Wilhelm Commercial Builders, how he supports STEM education, and his answer comes quickly.
“I help thousands of math educators in Maryland gain knowledge, techniques for teaching and peer training through a strategic alliance of our Baltimore-Washington Corridor Chamber (BWCC) Foundation with the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM),” he said.
Wilhelm has worked tirelessly to raise funds from a variety of corporations and businesses in the region to support the annual math conference, held in October, which last year drew more than 800 math educators to Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, where MCTM had a full-day program with two keynote speakers and nearly 100 breakout sessions.
Drew Flott, CEO of Revere Bank and president of the BWCC Foundation, shared that, “As far as we know, we’re the only chamber-affiliated foundation in America to be aligned with a statewide mathematics organization to offer a professional development program for math educators. All of us need employees now and in the future who have the requisite math skills to keep our industries competitive with the rest of the world. This is a role we can play, supporting our math teachers.”
Similar programs with MCTM have occurred over the past five years, but the BWCC and the affiliated foundation have hosted math symposia since 1991, beginning in partnership with math coordinators from Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and with support from the National Security Agency, which employs more mathematicians than any single employer in America.
“One of our first program keynoters was Jack Ingram, then curator of the National Cryptologic Museum, located at NSA,” said Walt Townshend, CEO of the BWCC and vice president of the BWCC Foundation. “He wowed the audience with stories of how math teachers from the Midwest were recruited to help start the workforce in cryptology. Jack even brought a German Enigma machine to provide a hands-on demonstration of devices used for code-making. It clearly reinforced in teachers’ minds how important mathematics is to our national defense, along with just about every other sector of the economy.”
The foundation also supports high school seniors with scholarships, giving financial assistance to those continuing their post-secondary education.
“In May and June of this year we granted nearly $18,000 in support to students at seven different high schools in our region,” Flott noted. “We will also help support students at First Generation College Bound, as well as Capitol Technology University.”
He added, “The business community is fully aware that we have an opportunity to provide resources for something that can never be taken away: an education.”
Creativity in raising funds to support the foundation are found in abundance at foundation board member Larry Bormel’s firm, Bormel, Grice & Huyett P.A. A certified public accountant, Bormel has served as foundation president as well as chairman of the board for the Chamber.
“Our firm has been fully engaged with both the Chamber and foundation, and we wanted to provide additional funds for scholarships,” Bormel explained. “We work with our clients, who donate silent auction items that our staff then bid on, with all monies collected going to the foundation. The employees have fun and are excited to know that students will have additional resources to pursue their dreams.”
But the investment doesn’t just end there.
“We even have employees go to the high schools’ awards events to make the presentations, and they get to see the smiles and tears of joy on the recipients’ faces,” Bormel added.
Funds for scholarships are also raised at the Annual Holiday Mixer, hosted at Savage Mill’s Great Room in early December, as well as the Annual Gala, which took place last year at the Maryland Live! Casino and featured entertainment by The Capitol Steps, along with a silent and live auction.
The foundation encourages businesses in the region to join with its work in supporting math education and scholarships for students. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, call the BWCC today.