Foundations Commit $140,000 to Colorado STEM Education
By Alex Carter
STEM Champions Gill Foundation and Ball Corporation today announced they will commit $140,000 to support Colorado STEM. Colorado STEM is a strategy of The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI). This funding will help accelerate the engagement of education, business, and community partners to continue to implement the Colorado STEM Education Roadmap, Colorado’s plan to advance science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning and opportunities that prepare Coloradan’s for success in college, career, and life.
“Colorado has a robust tradition of collaboration and I applaud the commitment of the Gill Foundation and Ball,” said Lt. Governor Donna Lynn, co-chair, Colorado STEM Advisory Committee. “Colorado STEM Champions — businesses, foundations, and personal donors — are coming together to help set a common vision for the future of STEM learning in our state, to coordinate the numerous existing efforts and identify gaps where they exist. Together, we are setting a high bar of excellence in STEM education and increasing access to quality experiences for Coloradans.”
Colorado has one of the most highly-skilled labor pools in the country but businesses still rely on recruiting talent from outside the state to meet the demand in occupations that require higher levels of skill in STEM. At the same time, there is an urgency to ensure every learner is prepared to succeed in college, career, and life through achieving a basic level of STEM literacy regardless of their career choice. STEM literacy includes the ability to think critically, communicate effectively, persevere through real and perceived barriers, and design innovative solutions to complex problems.
Rebecca Holmes, CEO at the Colorado Education Initiative said, “CEI is working with schools and districts to ensure that all Colorado students develop the skills that STEM infuses into their classrooms. It is commendable that partners like Ball and the Gill Foundation are helping reach that goal. They realize that rich learning experiences can produce students who see themselves as problem solvers, collaborators, and innovators, and who have the skills to engage, both now and in the future.”
According to Ball Corporation Director of Global Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Relations, Chris Chavez, cross-sector funding and collaboration are critical to the success of building a workforce pipeline for STEM career professionals.
“As an international company reliant on innovations, sustainable practices, and local talent, we understand the importance of engaging the entire community in supporting students and adults in accessing the education and experiences that prepare them as global citizens,” said Chavez. “We are investing in Colorado STEM because we know that increased collaboration and better alignment of existing resources will result in more Colorado learners having access to real world, relevant, and challenging experiences that excite and prepare them to become our future employees.”
For the Gill Foundation, the work of Colorado STEM relates directly to the foundation’s core mission.
“The Gill foundation supports equity in opportunity, and we believe that an education rich with STEM learning and relevant experiences will open up possibilities for Colorado students,” said Denise Whinnen, Gill Foundation, Director, Colorado Strategies. “We also believe educator voice is crucial to the success of this effort, and are delighted to support the increased engagement of Colorado educators in Colorado STEM via this support.”
Colorado STEM Champions have seen a return on investment for increasing coordination and setting common goals. Accomplishments such as the replication of the Change the Equation STEMworks effort in Colorado now defines a high bar of excellence for STEM programming and has recognized over 20 local programs for delivering highly engaging, rigorous, and relevant experiences to increasingly diverse student populations. Further, STEM Champions have funded pilots of career pathways, STEM mentor programs, supported STEM design competitions, and funded local educators to implement their STEM projects. They have replicated a STEM program directory – ColoradoSTEMConnect.org – which provides parents and students access to STEM opportunities near them.