The Society for Science & the Public today announced that $75,000 in grants have been awarded to 18 grassroots organizations committed to STEM education and science literacy for underserved and underrepresented groups, including racial and ethnic minority populations, girls, students in rural areas and more.
In response to COVID-19 restrictions on in-person programming, many of these organizations have launched virtual programs, determined to continue to meet the needs of students, families and communities.
The STEM Action Grant Program aims to strengthen and support community-driven nonprofit organizations that are working to enhance the public’s understanding of science and to increase participation of underrepresented and underserved populations in STEM fields. More than half of this year’s STEM Action grantees previously received support from the Society. To date (including this announcement), the Society has given $245,000 to organizations wanting to improve access to STEM education.
“The STEM education community must address the racial, gender and socioeconomic disparities and divides that are stunting the potential of the next generation of STEM leaders,” said Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of Science News. “That’s a key reason why we created the STEM Action Grant program, and why we’re investing in these 18 innovative organizations that are nurturing potential in underrepresented communities.”
The following organizations are awardees of the 2020 STEM Action Grant Program. Funding for the STEM Action Grant program comes, in part, from Regeneron.
- Black Girls Dive Foundation (Owings Mills, MD) will receive $5,000 to support the foundation’s mission to empower young, underrepresented girls in marine STEM fields. Through innovative, aquatic-based recreational and STEM activities, the foundation supports young girls in the Baltimore metropolitan area and Trenton, New Jersey who are historically underrepresented and underserved in STEM. Funding will sustain the project through staff training and the purchase of materials and supplies, including ROV kits and 2D printing equipment for a coral restoration project. This is the organization’s third STEM Action Grant.
- Congressional App Challenge (Washington, DC), a project of the Internet Education Foundation, will receive $2,500 from the Society to support their mission to encourage students to learn how to code, through annual district-wide competitions hosted by Members of Congress for their district. In its fifth year, the program saw over 300 Members of Congress across 48 states and U.S. territories host an App Challenge, and aims to be in every state this year. Funding will offset the cost of their application portal, as well as provide compensation for intern stipends and staff time. The Congressional App Challenge has been awarded a STEM Action Grant for the last two years.
- Connect Crew at Memphis Public Libraries (Memphis, TN) will receive $5,000 toward the purchase of virtual reality, coding and robotics equipment for their Start Here van, a fully-staffed learning lab on wheels that delivers unique programming to traditionally underserved communities and neighborhood library branches with limited resources. The group’s overarching goal is to provide programming that addresses socioeconomic disparities and provides equitable access to technology and STEM resources, particularly for low-income and minority youth. They received a STEM Action Grant in 2019.
- inteGIRLS Inc. (Rockville, MD) will receive $2,500 toward a math competition event in the Washington, DC area, in order to ensure a high-quality event for the girls in 2021. The funds will also be used to host events in Seattle, New York City and Houston. The organization, led by female teens, aims to empower girls to pursue their passion for science, math and problem solving through a sense of community.
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (New York, NY), an educational nonprofit that serves a global audience, the Museum’s programming engages the public in an exploration of the intersection of STEM with the arts, culture, current affairs and history. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a $2,500 grant will support expanded offerings of the Museum’s Virtual Field Trip experiences. This is the third STEM Action Grant received by the Museum.
- Learn Fresh Education Company (Denver, CO) will receive a $5,000 grant to fund a Family Resource Center on the program’s online platform, as part of their broader initiative to improve family engagement by equipping families with the tools and resources needed to implement NBA Math Hoops at home. This initiative was catalyzed by the COVID-19 crisis. The NBA Math Hoops program reaches low-income students and students of color in grades 3-8 through a physical board game, a math and social-emotional curriculum, and a program structure that leverages the power of the NBA/WNBA and its players to improve student performance in math and other STEM subjects. Learn Fresh previously received the STEM Action Grant in 2017 and 2019.
- Lower Brule Research (Lower Brule, SD), provides indigenous students on the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation with engaging, hands-on STEM learning experiences. A $5,000 STEM Action Grant will be used to support summer interns for the organization, a college mentor from South Dakota State University and a community educator to guide the indigenous students through their STEM journeys. As part of a new initiative, Lower Brule will use various teaching methods– including peer mentoring, interdisciplinary project-based learning and restorative justice approaches – that will then be proposed to local schools during the school year to help improve educational opportunities and better serve students. Lower Brule Research has received the STEM Action Grant for three consecutive years.
- Marie’s Kids (North Charleston, SC), provides income-eligible, elementary-age students of color in the Tri-County area of South Carolina with acc children’s curiosity for their natural environment, using local field trips and hands-on experiences to expose students to STEAM in the real world, with topics such as “Music as Math,” and “The Biomechanics of Sports.” A grant of $2,500 will be used to support field trips and the purchase of long-term use items, such as science kits and sporting goods. Marie’s Kids was awarded a STEM Action Grant in 2019.ess to STEAM programming that is fun and culturally engaging. Their theme-based curriculum builds on
- Outdoor STEM / Venture Outdoors (Pittsburgh, PA) will receive a $2,500 grant for materials and personnel that will enable the group to enhance its community partnerships with those serving minority youth from low-income households, in a program designed to remove barriers and make the outdoors more accessible to all. By connecting youth to outdoor exploration through environmentally-focused STEM learning, Venture Outdoors aims to build a community of environmental stewards who work to protect their local green spaces and are led to discover nature’s wonders.
- Project Invent (East Palo Alto, CA) empowers high school students nationwide to invent technologies that solve problems within their communities. Students work with community “clients” to engineer solutions, taking part in a year of invention that culminates in Launch Weekend, an opportunity for students to pitch to investors and visit top tech companies in Silicon Valley, New York City or Chicago. They will receive $5,000 to sponsor a Project Invent team in Anchorage, Alaska, with the ultimate goal of empowering marginalized youth as STEM leaders and inviting the public to expand their idea of what a STEM innovator looks like.
- Rosie Riveters (Alexandria, VA) provides a fun space for girls ages 4-14 in Northern Virginia to imagine, create and play while developing their STEM skills. They pair hands-on activities with an innovative approach to mentorship that focuses on investigating gender stereotypes in STEM and interacting with women in the field, in addition to teaching girls through trial-and-error approaches to delete the words ‘I can’t’ from their vocabulary. Funds will facilitate more than 40 weeks of engaging digital STEM content in order to widen the already-expanding reach of Rosie Riveters’ award-winning STEM content.
- Safe Alternative Foundation for Education (SAFE) (Baltimore, MD) provides a year-round learning environment to turn unstructured time outside of school into an opportunity for academic improvement and personal growth, ensuring that middle school students in the West Baltimore community of Maryland have access to quality education and resources. A $2,500 grant will support their STEM learning program operated by SAFE after school and in virtual learning classes, with the goal of inspiring students to see the real-world applications of their STEM classes and to continue their education in this area during high school and college. SAFE received STEM Action Grants in 2018 and 2019.
- Science from Scientists (Bedford, MA) will receive $5,000 to support their mission to inspire the next generation to solve real-world problems by improving STEM literacy and encouraging students toward careers in STEM. The organization sends professional scientists into elementary and middle school classrooms throughout the year to guide students through fun, hands-on STEM lessons. Funding will support the general needs of this school STEM enrichment program, which currently operates in 88 partner schools in California, Massachusetts and Minnesota. The grant will also support, including the development of virtual STEM content for the “Science Away from the Classroom” series, launched in response to COVID-19 school closures. Science from Scientists is a previous three-time STEM Action Grant recipient.
- STEM NOLA’s (New Orleans, LA) mission is to grow future innovators, creators and entrepreneurs through inspiration, engagement and exposure to opportunities in STEM. They offer high-quality out-of-school programs across New Orleans and Louisiana, creating an ecosystem of support for students from pre-kindergarten to college – particularly low-income youth of color – to explore and build skills in STEM-related subjects and fields with increasing complexity and intensity. A $5,000 grant will be used to support stipends for Virtual STEM LAB college facilitators and STEM kits, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. STEM NOLA works to ensure that students face fewer barriers to accessible STEM learning and that educators are supported in providing it.
- The STEMinista Project at the Michigan Science Center (Detroit, MI) seeks to provide minority 4th-8th grade girls with the tools, experiences and role models to increase their interest and confidence in STEM in a creative and dynamic learning environment. They will receive a $5,000 grant to support program events such as summer camps, overnight hack-a-thons and STEMinista Saturdays, workshops that are designed to connect girls with STEM mentors and celebrate women in science. Professional STEM women who take part in the program often mirror the diversity of the Metro Detroit area and help girls see themselves represented in STEM.
- Urban Science Summit (State College, PA) empowers the nation’s inquisitive but underrepresented young thinkers to become tomorrow’s STEM innovators, building their confidence and skills by teaching them the fundamentals of design and invention. Previously focused on mentoring elementary and middle school students in robotics, math and programming, the nonprofit launched their pilot platform, InvenTEEN, in response to COVID-19. InvenTEEN will receive a $5,000 grant to assist underrepresented middle and high school students in Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania in the process of applying for provisional patents and catalyzing scientific collaboration among students.
- Women’s Audio Mission (WAM) (San Francisco, CA) is fighting the chronic gender gap in tech by using music and media to attract at-risk and underrepresented girls and women and providing free, creative STEM technology training, mentoring and job placement. The organization aims to amplify the voices of women, to inspire them to become the next innovators. A $5,000 grant will be used to support web development and help secure the tools needed for content creation to launch WAM Everywhere, a critical project to bringing the group’s mission online, necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis. The program will serve 10,000+ underserved girls from all over the U.S.
- Youth Code Jam (San Antonio, TX) will receive $5,000 to translate their website, related coding tutorials and parent materials into Spanish in order to remove barriers and reduce the digital divide for families whose first language is not English. The organization provides hands-on and family-focused, out-of-school computing programs to improve access to computer science for K-12 students. Youth Code Jam pivoted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, developing a Virtual Code Jam based on their successful in-person programming. This is their second year as a STEM Action Grantee.