Dominion continues to support young girls' path to RU's Summer Bridge


A lego robotics project from the Summer Bridge program.

When Radford University's Summer Bridge program begins in July, the program will have a familiar partner in its mission of introducing high school girls to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Since 2009, Dominion Resources, one of the nation's largest producers and transporters or energy, has provided $25,000 yearly to the RU Summer Bridge program. The generous gifts total $150,000.

"Education is one of the Dominion’s core philanthropic areas," said Cindy Balderson, manager of Dominion's Corporate Philanthropy and Community Partnerships. "The Summer Bridge program is an excellent educational program for high school students interested in STEM-related subjects."

An essential element of Summer Bridge, hosted annually by RU's College of Science and Technology (CSAT), is demonstrating to high schools girls, especially those from families of modest means, that higher education is within reach and introducing them to careers in science and technology that they might not have considered otherwise.

CSAT Dean Orion Rogers is grateful for the "generous and consistent support" Dominion provides to the Summer Bridge program.


Participants from the 2013 Summer Bridge.

"Their total support and pledge have provided the funding for more than 150 high school girls to attend Summer Bridge program from 2009-2013, and we are recruiting a new cohort of Dominion Resources Scholars to attend during summer 2014," Rogers said. "The experiences of living on a college campus for a week and learning from enthusiastic faculty members and professional women role models have a transformative effect on the aspirations of these young women."

Many classes for the week are taught by female faculty members who serve as mentors to the girls. Among those faculty who have taught at Summer Bridge is Donna Boyd, professor of anthropological sciences, who was honored in 2006 as U.S. Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

"The Summer Bridge program continues to be a well-designed program to encourage high school students to pursue their studies of STEM-related subjects and to consider STEM-related careers," Balderson noted.

In the Summer Bridge 2014 program, students will participate in a number of curricula that will include space exploration; geology; forensic science; genes, molecules and medicine; and environmental science.

"Dominion is particularly pleased this year to note that Summer Bridge students in the environmental science curriculum will visit and study at Dominion's Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County," Balderson said. "The facility produces enough electricity to power about 150,000 homes, and is one of the cleanest coal-fired power stations in the country. The facility uses coal and up to 20 percent biomass."

Balderson noted that the "Summer Bridge program represents another way for Dominion to show our support of students in communities where we live and work."

In addition to financial support, Dominion will provide a guest speaker for the 2014 Summer Bridge. Addressing the young participants will be Dominion's Paula Hamel, whose background includes experience with electric and natural gas industry environmental policy, electrical transmission and distribution asset construction, as well as hydro, fossil, merchant and independent power-providing assets, including company and regional goals development.

"Dominion fully agrees with the mission of the program," Balderson said. "The Summer Bridge program offers high school girls interested in STEM-related subjects more knowledge about their field of interest and a taste of the college experience."

Apr 22, 2014