Hours for Impact

Scoring a Win for Disadvantaged Students


PMI Delaware Valley Chapter and Young Men and Women in Charge (YMWIC) Foundation

Number of Hours Pledged: 16+

SDGs Supported: #4 Quality Education, #10 Reduced Inequalities

Country: USA

Summary: An education that includes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) gives students the foundational tools for future innovation. And for students from economically disadvantaged and historically marginalized communities, it can also illuminate career paths that can help them escape the cycle of poverty.

Since 2007, the Young Men and Women in Charge (YMWIC) Foundation in Exton, Pennsylvania, USA, has been working to turn that vision into reality. Along with offering academic tutoring, mentoring and financial assistance programs, the foundation holds an annual Science Expo. Primary and high school students spend months preparing projects, which are then presented to judges.

It’s the kind of event that helps build excitement and engagement among the students. And some volunteers from the PMI Delaware Valley Chapter saw an opportunity to make it even better: As part of their pledge to PMI Hours for Impact, they leaned into their own creativity and problem-solving potential to address a long-standing concern with the expo’s scoring process.

The issue? The event’s cumbersome scoring system. To determine the winners in each of the five categories, expo judges had to fill out between 100 and 200 spreadsheets. That information was then copied and pasted into one master document to be analyzed. “It was a lot of wasted manipulation of spreadsheets,” says Stephan Rouyer, PMP, an IT project manager at Saint-Gobain.

So the team created a more user-friendly app that judges could download to their mobile phones. Judges would use the tool to enter scores and comment on students’ project boards and presentations, and then could review and modify the information they’d entered before submitting it. After that, the app would calculate the results automatically.

Earning Points With Stakeholders 

Leading up to the 2022 expo, the team’s biggest issue was navigating all the change requests from stakeholders, says Rouyer, the app’s lead designer. 

“Volunteer organizations don’t necessarily operate like corporate organizations,” explains fellow volunteer Ernest Dixon, project manager at Air Products. “So the team focused on communication and agile processes to adapt to constantly changing requirements.” 

To keep everyone aligned on the project goals, PMI chapter volunteers held weekly video calls for several months to discuss the status of the app development and testing process, as well as the evolving requirements. 

The team was prepared to deploy its scoring app at the Science Expo in March 2022. There, they quickly discovered another challenge: Expo judges weren’t accessible until the day of the event, explains fellow volunteer Steven Bistany, PMP, global contracting and enablement leader at Corteva Agriscience. 

The solution: Bistany helped 35 judges download the app to their phones shortly before the expo began and then quickly explained how the tool worked. He also stayed on-site during the event to assist judges and answer questions about the new system.


Problem-Solving Power

Expo organizers can now benefit from the many efficiencies delivered by the new scoring app. The tool requires just two volunteers to support scoring at the Science Expo, instead of the previous eight. “I can’t stand waste,” Bistany says. “So if you can drive that waste out, then you can free up resources in other areas of need.”

With the app delivered, chapter volunteers now have time to support YMWIC in other ways through their Hours for Impact pledge. With service work such as tutoring and mentoring students, the volunteers are helping PMI, a member of the U.N. Global Compact, meet the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals for both Quality Education and Reduced Inequalities.

“There is a tremendous need to increase the number of people of color in STEM,” Dixon says. “STEM careers provide opportunities to close the wealth gap and other inequalities in our society. Education opens the doors for a future and allows us to have productive dialogue and interaction with others.” 

Participating in Hours for Impact comes with its own rewards as well. “There is nothing more satisfying than seeing someone develop their skills, seize growth opportunities, and go on to be wildly successful in their careers and personal development,” Bistany says. “This is why I volunteer.” 

For Rouyer, an Hours for Impact pledge was a “no-brainer”: “What could be more logical than to offer my time and skills to students who not only need them but are more than willing to learn in order to rise up in and beyond their community?”