In 2022, the scholarship program, Introducing Future Leaders to Opportunities in Water (InFLOW) will bring 41 scholars to WEFTEC. The program seeks to share the water career opportunities with scholars and enhance diversity and inclusion in the water sector.
InFLOW is comprised of two different tracks: CareerTech and STEMpath. CareerTech partners with community-based organizations to expose scholars in job readiness programs to the variety of rewarding career possibilities in water quality. STEMpath identifies scholars enrolled in undergraduate and graduate degree programs from historically underrepresented ethnic and racial groups.
Twenty-six STEMpath scholars will participate in this year's program, representing 13 universities across 10 U.S. states. In the past, STEMpath scholars have represented a variety of different racial/ethnic groups and many have been first-generation college students in their families. They have ranged from college first-year students to doctoral candidates in a variety of majors. The schools participating in the STEMpath program are
- Arizona State University,
- Benedict College,
- California State University–Pomona,
- Florida International University,
- Howard University,
- Loyola University,
- Manhattan College,
- Rutgers University,
- San Diego State University,
- University of Nebraska–Lincoln,
- University of South Alabama,
- University of South Florida, and
- University of the District of Columbia.
For the CareerTech track in 2022, 15 scholars will participate. Louisiana Green Corps selected these scholars to attend WEFTEC 2022. Louisiana Green Corps works to provide green job skills training and service-learning opportunities to 16- to 24-year-old youth and young adults living in the Greater New Orleans Area.
Five Years of Growth
InFLOW kicked off at WEFTEC 2018, and provided travel assistance, hotel accommodations, registration, and additional networking opportunities to 16 students. That same year, WEF launched the Emerging Water Quality Scholars program, which brought 15 New Orleans area opportunity youth to WEFTEC. In 2019, the two programs merged to form the current two-track model. That year more than 40 scholars from across the nation represented Chicago and several universities. The next year, 2020, brought about the first fully virtual InFLOW program. Scholars in both tracks participated in 5 weeks of content. There were 24 STEMpath scholars from across the U.S. and 10 CareerTech scholars. In 2021, the program blended virtual and in-person programming for a total of 39 scholars — 24 STEMpath and 15 CareerTech.
Since the start of the program in 2018, WEF InFLOW has had more than 130 scholars participate. More than 40% of those scholars have continued their studies or are currently working in the water sector.
The program has been nationally recognized for its contributions and in 2021 won the ASAE Power of A Gold Award. WEF InFLOW has not only grown nationally, but several WEF Member Associations also have begun InFLOW programs at their annual conferences.