Ralph C. Wilson Foundation in Detroit Launches STEM 2035 Initiative


The Detroit-based Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (RCWJRF) today announced STEM 2035, an initiative through which the Foundation will grant funding and technical assistance to existing after school and summer STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs in southeast Michigan and western New York.

The Foundation will award up to 20 total grants, each for up to $250,000 over a three-year span.

“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,” says Amber Slichta, vice president of programs at the foundation.

“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.”

Through STEM 2035, the Foundation is looking to accomplish the following:

  • Increase the number of girls and minority youth participating in STEM programs and pursuing STEM in post-secondary education, training, and careers.
  • Accelerate learning and collaboration among afterschool STEM providers in southeast Michigan and western New York to improve STEM outcomes for youth in those regions.
  • Support innovative ideas that better connect, inspire, and prepare 6th-12th graders for STEM in-post secondary education, training, and careers.
  • Improve and sustain program quality by integrating best practices to better support youth’s STEM learning experiences.

The initiative is seeking programs that are ready and willing to try something new or make substantial improvements that spark interest, build confidence, and create pathways in STEM.

“During the next 16-plus years of our Foundation’s spend down, we’ll witness some of the most rapid advances in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in history. We need to ensure that our future leaders are equipped to meet the modern challenges through 2035 and beyond,” Slichta adds.

In addition to receiving funding for their programs, grantees will become part of the STEM 2035 peer learning community. Through the group, they will receive training and technical assistance, try new evaluation tools and quality improvement strategies, collaborate, and learn together.

From March 19 through April 13, eligible organizations are encouraged to apply. Applications are due by 5 p.m. EST on April 13. Finalists will be notified in May to submit full proposals and selected grantees will be notified in July 2018.

To learn more about STEM 2035 and the application process and eligibility, visit comconnectionsny.com/STEM.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grant-making organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of southeast Michigan and western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise.

Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the foundation that bears his name. The foundation has a grant-making capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires on January 8, 2035.

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