October 04, 2018

Donor Spotlight: USLI and Thomas Nerney support STEM and students at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School

Later this month the Tiger Woods Invitational, a private golf event presented by United States Liability Insurance (USLI), will return to the breathtaking Monterey Peninsula along the central coast of California. While TGR Live’s charity events offer guests unforgettable experiences on and off the golf course, they also stand as a reminder of the power of partnership.

I recall meeting Tom Nerney, USLI’s Chairman, President and CEO, on a rainy day in Philadelphia more than five years ago. We were observing a few classrooms and began discussing the state of education. We quickly found common ground around potential solutions for connecting students to real-world problem solving.

Tom shared with me USLI’s community commitment as they promoted mentoring between their employees and local school children. This type of community partnership is not common around the country and I think that is why I appreciate Tom so much.

From that meeting forward, Tom and USLI have been longstanding supporters of TGR Foundation’s educational programs in the greater Philadelphia region. Their avid support of Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, the site of our TGR Learning Lab satellite campus, has created opportunities for countless low-income high-school students in the North Philadelphia neighborhood.

Sharing Tom’s focus of creating a classroom to career pipeline for students, after-school courses at the TGR Learning Lab campus at Cristo Rey Philadelphia range from Robotics and Universal Science, to Video Game Design and Wearable Electronics. Through innovative, hands-on and inquiry-based courses, students are given an opportunity to learn about real-world Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) careers.

Over the years, the TGR Learning Lab program at Cristo Rey has grown substantially and now provides weekend classes for middle-school students in the surrounding community. During these classes, high-school students who attend Cristo Rey act as facilitators and mentors for their younger counterparts, creating a sense of community inside the walls of the TGR Learning Lab. The program also includes a Summer STEM component that serves up to 50 middle-school students, keeping them engaged in powerful learning experiences throughout the month of July.

For Michael Gomez, principal at Cristo Rey Philadelphia, partnerships with both TGR Foundation and USLI are key components to bolstering students in the right direction.

“At Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, part of our culture is to build up, build on, build always,” said Gomez. “We believe our partnership with USLI and the TGR Foundation literally and figuratively exemplifies that. Our students are not just building robots and wearable electronics; they are building a 21st century toolkit filled with leadership and teamwork and scientific literacy.”

This year, Cristo Rey Philadelphia launches its very first Robotics team, which will compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge competition. The FIRST Tech Challenge offers students an opportunity to collaborate – in this case, to design, build and program a robot to complete a series of challenges – on a team, where each student gets real-world experience managing and contributing to an end-product in the engineering field.

With support from community and business leaders like Tom Nerney, there is no limit to where our programs – and students – can go next. Tom models the importance of hard work through USLI and couples it with being a good steward of the community. We all get better when we work together, and I am glad TGR Foundation has the chance to stand alongside Tom and the entire USLI team.

Redefining what it means to be a champion.