The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation recently included the YMCA of Greater Rochester among its cohort for STEM 2035.
The $5.5-million initiative will provide grant funding and technical assistance to existing afterschool and summer science, technology, engineering and math programs in western New York and southeast Michigan.
Community Connections of NY, a nonprofit management services organization, is overseeing the STEM 2035 initiative. CCNY awarded grants to 17 organizations after receiving more than 100 applications, each for up to $250,000 over a three-year span.
The cohort includes Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Buffalo Maritime Center, Buffalo Museum of Science/Tifft Nature Preserve, Mission Ignite and Westminster Economic Development Initiative in Buffalo; Detroit Hispanic Development Corp., Downtown Boxing Gym, EcoWorks and Michigan Science Center in Detroit; Do It, Dream It WNY Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier in Jamestown; Challenger Learning Center of Lockport in Lockport; Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda; The Baldwin Center in Pontiac, Michigan; Portville Central School in Portville; Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County in Warsaw; and Wellsville Central School District in Wellsville.
Grantees were selected based on a various factors, including their focus on middle and high school girls and underrepresented groups in the STEM field, as well as innovative approaches to program expansion or new programming.
“During the next 16-plus years of our foundation’s spend down, we are looking to these organizations to not only equip young leaders for the STEM industry today, but to create pathways that will allow for success beyond our exit,” said Amber Slichta, vice president of programs. “There are obvious gaps that prevent underrepresented groups from pursuing STEM in their education, careers and training. Through this initiative, we hope to fill these gaps and better prepare the next generation’s workforce.”
The STEM 2035 cohort kick-off meeting is scheduled for Oct. 3-4 in Detroit. In addition to receiving funding for their programs, grantees will be a part of the STEM 2035 peer learning community. This group will receive training and technical assistance, try new evaluation tools and quality improvement strategies, collaborate, and learn together.
The PEAR Institute at Harvard will provide technical assistance, program assessments and support for grantees in the cohort. Additional project partners include Equal Measure, which will serve as the cohort evaluator and provide insights into how the peer learning community contributes to quality improvement, knowledge exchange and better outcomes for youth.
“Young people have a bright future in STEM fields, but we have to rigorously support them to engage, gain knowledge and develop skills,” said Gil Noam, founder and director of The PEAR Institute. “Too many students lose interest right at the time when they should get excited and committed. The afterschool field has shown great potential to contribute to STEM learning in creative and hands-on ways. The Ralph Wilson Foundation’s STEM 2035 initiative is highly significant in providing very sizable grants, know-how and evidence and a cohort approach to training.”
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