TE Foundation makes $1,250,000 in grants to three organisations focused on increasing access to STEM careers across the globe

The TE Connectivity Foundation today announced that its 2018 grants have been awarded to three nonprofit organisations that advance the TE Foundation’s mission of connecting and strengthening global communities through access to technology and engineering for all, with a focus on women and underserved populations. The organisations receiving one-year grants are: FIRST Global, Girl Up and SMASH.

Commenting on the grants, Karen Leggio, chair of the TE Foundation Board of Trustees and senior vice president and general manager of TE Connectivity’s North American Automotive business, said: “We believe that helping to build strong communities and increasing access to education and careers in engineering and technology is core to creating a sustainable global work force and meaningful work opportunities for all. The three organisations we selected do just that, and we are excited to work with each of them and see the impact of their programs on women and underserved populations. ‘Every connection counts’ is not just a tagline at TE. It permeates all that we do.”

FIRST Global runs high-profile, international robotics competitions designed around solving major global challenges with high school aged participants from around the world, inspiring not only those who participate, but also those from teams’ home countries. The TE Foundation grant will help extend the competition to additional nations where girls are not typically given the opportunity to partake in equal education or opportunities like this, and also help provide the kits needed for the competition. Kevin Wensing, executive director of FIRST Global said: “The FIRST Global Challenge builds connections, relationships and inspires future leaders of the international community through the exciting sport of robotics and STEM, encouraging them to pursue their dreams. We are grateful to the TE Foundation for their strong leadership and support.”

Girl Up is a global leadership development organization hosted at the UN Foundation. Girl Up’s GIRLHERO Solution Labs and STEM boot camps are one-day “hackathon” style events where girls come together to create STEM solutions for social issues impacting gender equality such as access to education and health information. The goal of the events is to utilize experts and resources that will galvanise girls’ interest in STEM careers for social good while simultaneously widening the lens through which they see STEM and STEM careers, and increasing STEM’s relevance to a broader population of girls. The TE Foundation’s grant will provide funding to create five GIRLHERO Solution Labs and STEM boot camps in domestic and international markets. “Science doesn’t have a gender, yet we know that girls are often discouraged from pursuing careers in STEM,” said Girl Up co-executive director Melissa Kilby. “We know that girls can be leaders in the STEM space. Girl Up’s boot camps and hackathons give girls the tools to put STEM into practice.” 

The TE Foundation’s third grant recipient is SMASH, a programme of the Level Playing Field Institute. SMASH provides access to technology and engineering for underserved students of color and has a proven track record of success. Its free, multi-year college prep program currently operates in several regions in the U.S. The TE Foundation grant will enable the organisation to expand to new U.S. markets, replicate its approach, and create an alumni network to help ensure that ongoing support is available for those who have gone through the programme, thereby increasing the likelihood that these students will engage in STEM careers. “If technology is going to live up to its promise of innovation, its workforce must include talent that reflects the diversity of our nation,” said Eli Kennedy, CEO of the Level Playing Field Institute. “SMASH provides the environment to nurture and develop the untapped genius in students from underrepresented communities. The generous gift from the TE Foundation will allow us to continue expanding SMASH so we can equip thousands more deserving students with the experience, resources and support to uplift themselves and their communities.”

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