The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has announced the launch of STEM 2035, an initiative aimed at strengthening the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) pipeline in western New York and southeast Michigan.
Through the initiative, the foundation will work to boost the number of girls and minority youth participating in STEM programs and pursuing STEM in postsecondary education, training, and careers; accelerate learning and collaboration among afterschool STEM providers; support innovative ideas that better connect, inspire, and prepare students to pursue postsecondary education, training, and careers in STEM fields; and improve and sustain program quality by integrating best practices. To that end, it will award as many as twenty grants of up to $250,000 each over three years.
In addition to receiving funding, grantees will participate in the STEM 2035 peer learning community, through which they will receive training and technical assistance, experiment with new evaluation tools and quality improvement strategies, and collaborate and learn together.
"The types of projects that kids encounter in afterschool STEM programs help build teamwork, problem solving, and communication skills, which are the kinds of skills that our fast-changing modern society needs," said Amber Slichta, the foundation's vice president of programs. "To prepare the next generation of workforce, we not only need to close the gaps in STEM knowledge, but we also need to close the gaps that keep under-represented youth from pursuing their interests in STEM subjects."