June 2, 2014

Campaign for Cybermentor app a success

Crowdfunding campaign surpasses its $10,000 goal for program to go mobile

Cybermentor's crowdfunding campaign "app4cybermentor" has raised close to $11,000, surpassing its $10,000 goal. The money, which includes $5,700 in donations and $5,000 in matching funds from McElhanney Land Surveys, will create a mobile app for the online mentoring program, to better connect girls with female scientists and engineers.

"Beyond getting us the funding we needed for the app, the campaign has also helped to raise awareness for women in science and engineering," says Brandi Chuchman, director of the Cybermentor program. "We have told amazing stories about successful women working in these fields."

At every $1,000 mark, the campaign shared stories from mentors to encourage more donations and to help inspire girls to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers by showcasing the amazing experiences of women in the field.

Chemical engineer Natasha Vallee is a mentor and ambassador with the Cybermentor program. She shared her visit to an off-shore oil platform as part of a work trip for ConocoPhillips.

"It put a lot of things in perspective for me," says Vallee. "I realized how many opportunities there are for engineers globally, and how diverse the projects and experiences are. I was also surprised to see how many women worked in the Norway office!"

The campaign is the first crowdfunded campaign at the University of Calgary and is also supported by McElhanney Land Surveys. The company's matching donation of $5,000 is essential to build a Cybermentor mobile app.

"McElhanney Land Surveys values diversity and when we heard about the opportunity to help Cybermentor reach more girls, we were happy to offer a matching grant," says Tyler Charkie from McElhanney Land Surveys. "Several of our employees are mentors in the Cybermentor program and McElhanney is honoured that our support helps more girls get involved in STEM careers."

For mentors and mentees in the program, the support from donors and McElhanney Land Surveys means greater connectivity.

"I am continually amazed by the generosity of Albertans and their support of worthy causes," says Christy Skelton, a field engineer with Keyera and a mentor and ambassador with the Cybermentor program. "The mobile app means mentees can connect with their mentors anywhere, any time and that is an important barrier removed."

Since 2001, Cybermentor has matched nearly 3,000 girls in grades 6-12 in Alberta with female role models in STEM. With the app, Chuchman hopes to accelerate this growth.