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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Dec. 4, 2023

Empowering minds, transforming communities: Recognizing excellence in PIE

By Eddie Stoker, Partnership in Education Program Manager, CRD, USCG HQ

Congratulations to the 2023 Partnership in Education (PIE) Award recipients! The PIE Awards recognize remarkable units and PIE coordinators throughout the Coast Guard who have positively impacted young people’s educational and employment prospects, and raised awareness about the Coast Guard’s mission.  

The recipients are: 

Best Unit Partnership (up to 100 personnel): 

Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore (WLB 209), Newport, RI 

Cmdr. Chad M. Conrad, commanding officer; ET1 Andrew Reese, PIE Coordinator 

Fourteen Coast Guard members volunteered 300 hours to support an elementary school, including a toy drive, student mentoring, and tutoring math to enhance the well-being and academic achievements of 740 students. The Coast Guard volunteers also collaborated with the local police department and the local Coast Guard recruiting office to raise awareness about Coast Guard career opportunities. 

Best Unit Partnership (more than 100 personnel) 

Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber and Intelligence Service Center (C5ISC), Kearneysville, WV 

Capt. Kevin M. Carroll, commanding officer; Lt. j.g. Kathryn S. Rubio, PIE Coordinator 

Sixty Coast Guard members volunteered 582 hours across seven elementary schools, four high schools, and four community-based organizations at 56 distinct school and community events. These activities included a Thanksgiving food drive, a snack drive, TEDdy talks, a Holiday Angel Tree, county-wide high school mock interviews, and more. Their efforts reached 4,300 students, particularly in underserved communities. To bolster recruitment through initiatives like the Everyone is a Recruiter (EIAR) and Scout Talent and Refer (STAR) programs, C5ISC expanded education partnerships by adding four high schools for the 2023-2024 program year. C5ISC also expanded partnerships to include Warrior GMR and Escape Velocity Academy to help deliver STEM information and activities to over 1,000 youth at the annual Sea, Air & Space Youth Expo hosted by the Navy League. 

Best Collaborative Unit (up to 100 personnel): 

Force Readiness Command (FC-C), Norfolk, VA 

Rear Adm. Jeffrey K. Randall, commanding officer; Lt. j.g. Kelly Kuong, PIE Coordinator. 

Twelve tenant commands in Norfolk Main Street Tower (MST), USCG Station Little Creek, and Force Readiness Command (FORCECOM) reinvigorated the area PIE program in 2022 to engage their community and its youth. During the 2022-2023 school year, thirty Coast Guard members volunteered to support several community-based organizations, elementary schools, and an early childhood center through donation drives, career days, field days, and fitness and mentorship programs, impacting 200 preschool and 1,000 elementary school students. The PIE team collaborated with the Society of American Military Engineers to present at the Norfolk Public Schools Community Engagement Council meeting, which opened the door to more volunteer opportunities and collaborative partners and led to six local elementary schools requesting Coast Guard partnerships. 

Best Collaborative Unit (more than 100 personnel): 

Sector New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 

CAPT Kelly K. Denning, Commanding Officer; LTJG M. Riley Steinbrenner, PIE Coordinator 

In 2022, the Louisiana State Legislature passed the Riley Bourgeois Act, which prompted Sector New Orleans to focus its PIE efforts on water safety education to align with the new requirements of the State. During the 2022-2023 PIE Program year, 32 Coast Guard members volunteered 240 hours delivering water safety education to 880 students in just one Louisiana parish school system. This partnership was made possible through the establishment of standard operating procedures and effective coordination efforts, which engaged smaller units with limited crews and competing operational priorities. The participating units included Station New Orleans, ANT New Orleans, ANT Venice, MSST New Orleans, Base New Orleans, Gulf Regional Fisheries Training Center, CGC AXE, CGC PAMLICO, and the MC-20 Incident Management Team. For the 2023-2024 PIE Program year, the Sector plans to continue to engage smaller Coast Guard units and offer its curriculum to students in an adjacent school system. 

Sustained Excellence:

Sector Houston – Galveston, Houston, TX

Capt. Keith M Donohue, commanding officer; Lt. j.g. David S. Strayer, PIE Coordinator

Sector Houston-Galveston leadership invested significantly in its Partnership in Education (PIE) Program. In 2020, the Sector began to expand its network by engaging with local Independent School Districts (ISDs). Specifically, it signed a Memorandum of Agreement and formalized a partnership with the Houston ISD. In addition, Sector Houston collaborated with the CG JROTC Program and Houston ISD’s JROTC program, hoping to establish the first CG JROTC program in the Gulf. Sector Houston also fortified its involvement with the Port Houston Partners in Maritime Education (PHPME), which focuses on preparing the next generation of mariners to fill vital positions in the maritime industry. PHPME supports seven Maritime High School programs, Texas Southern University, and San Jacinto Maritime College. As a central node for PIE efforts in the area, Sector Houston coordinated CG aircraft, small boats, and personnel from 15 Coast Guard units, the Auxiliary, Recruiting Office Houston, and the local Coast Guard Academy Admissions Partner. Over the last three years, Sector Houston executed a wide range of educational activities focused on students, including tours of CG facilities, intervention workshops, career presentations, and multiple school and community events.  Notable events coordinated by Sector Houston include a 'Coast Guard Maritime Rally;' a ‘Coast Guard Day’ at an elementary school, the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston, the Maritime & Logistics Youth Expo, and the Houston ISD JROTC Summer Camp.  In total, Sector Houston dedicated 1,656 volunteer hours and reached over 4,700 students, significantly enhancing educational impact, Coast Guard presence, and recruiting efforts in the Nation's fourth-largest city.

PIE Coordinator of the Year: 

Lt. j.g. Madison C. Quinn 

Sector Long Island Sound, New Haven, CT 

Capt. Elisa M. Garrity, commanding officer 

Lt. j.g. Quinn spearheaded the participation of 102 Coast Guard members who volunteered 427 hours across 18 events to enhance educational opportunities for 3,450 students from 12 schools (pre-K to college) in Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. Coast Guard members contributed as science fair judges, guest readers, special lesson instructors, career day speakers, field trip presenters, and participants in end-of-school-year festivities. Quinn collaborated with Sector, Station New Haven, ANT Long Island Sound, ESD New Haven, and the Hartford Recruiting Office to plan the Sector’s second consecutive PIE Field Trip. A standout moment for many of the kids was the Coast Guard helicopter landing on the unit parade field. Additionally, Quinn helped promote and raise awareness about the PIE program at other units, including MSD Coram, which helped bridge outreach and communication gaps and provided opportunities for all units on Long Island, NY, an avenue to participate in PIE events. 

Established in 1991, the Partnership In Education (PIE) program allows members of the Coast Guard to provide volunteer support to hundreds of partner schools (elementary, middle, and high schools as well as colleges) and work directly with tens of thousands of students on a range of activities that promote the well-being and academic achievement of students, including in underserved communities. 

The PIE Program benefits everyone involved. Students learn about civic responsibility, applications of academic disciplines, and different career opportunities. Coast Guard members further serve as positive role models and mentors in communities where they live and work. Teachers, schools, and communities receive support in developing our nation’s future civilian and military workforce and leaders.