The Society for Science, a 100-year-old organization dedicated to the promotion of science education, has given a $2,500 grant and a $5,000 grant to two Brooklyn STEM organizations — part of an overall $165,000 in microgrants to 38 community-driven programs across the country.
The STEM Action Grant program, under which these awards were given, helps groups that have been historically left behind in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and careers — from hearing- and visually-impaired youngsters to low-income students to female students.
The $5,000 grant goes to Tech Kids Unlimited, headquartered on Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn. The money will go toward helping students on the autism spectrum to gain confidence and expand their skills in technology and computer science. In particular, the funds will support the TKU Digital Agency, which provides paid internships and work-based learning for young people on the spectrum, many of whom suffer from chronic unemployment.
“Students with disabilities are not given the opportunity to further their interests related to computer science and technology during their time in school. The gap between the potential of people with ASD and the difficulty they face attaining opportunities is particularly striking given the large number affected. Funding from the Society’s STEM Action will help us close this gap by allowing us to reach students who require financial aid assistance to attend our program,” a spokesperson for Tech Kids Unlimited said.
The $2,500 grant goes to Prospect Heights-based Learn Fresh, which sponsors programs nationwide. It will be used to support the implementation of a new educational program that leverages the game of soccer and students’ passion for sports to draw them into the STEM orbit.
The new program will join the group’s flagship NBA Math Hoops program. Among this program’s supporters are Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings, Rajon Rondo of the L.A. Clippers, and Earl Cureton, formerly of the Detroit Pistons.
Among the other youth organizations nationwide that are receiving grants this year from the Society for Science are quite a few science organizations geared to girls, in some cases Black and Latino girls specifically; several environmental groups connected with natural parks and land conservancies; the Intrepid Museum Foundation here in New York; outdoors groups; a group that seeks to educate Upstate New York rural families about healthy foods; and many more.
“If the United States is going to stand as a world leader in science and technology and keep pace in innovation with the rest of the world, we must prioritize investing in grassroots organizations that are doing the hard work on the ground, to engage and educate science learners of all backgrounds.
“What’s most inspiring to me about these organizations is that they are identifying growth areas in their local communities and enacting real change,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science and Publisher of Science News.”