TE Connectivity Foundation Continues Effort to Boost Access to STEM Education

Grants support the UN Foundation's Girl Up, SMASH and FIRST Global.

Grants support the UN Foundation's Girl Up, SMASH and FIRST Global.

The TE Connectivity Foundation announced it will continue its support of three nonprofit organizations that advance its mission of connecting and strengthening global communities through access to technology and engineering for all, with a focus on women and underserved populations, by providing $1.3 million in grants.

“We initiated our support of this work last year, and were thrilled not only with what these organizations achieved, but with how they plan to evolve their work going forward,” Karen Leggio, chair of the TE Foundation Board of Trustees and a senior vice president at TE Connectivity, a global leader in sensors and connectors, says. “Each one of them took our mandate to impact underserved populations by providing access to education and careers in engineering and technology very seriously, and is focusing even more keenly on our shared goals as they look to the future.” 

Girl Up, a global leadership development initiative started by the United Nations Foundation, now seeks to incorporate STEM into its overall leadership development programming. Girl Up plans to use the TE Foundation’s grant to bring its STEM for Social Good program to scale, reaching more diverse girls through rural and urban outreach and the creation of partnerships with schools and local organizations.

More specifically, the TE Foundation’s grant will provide funding for three STEM for Social Good tour stops in new underserved U.S. rural and urban markets and two STEM for Social Good events in new international markets. It will also allow Girl Up to translate the STEM for Social Good Toolkit into other languages to help mobilize leaders in more countries (Spanish and French in 2019 with additional languages to come in 2020), and support building partnerships with national and international school and teacher networks. 

“We believe both that impact starts with access, and also that girls are the most powerful force for change,” Anna Blue, co-executive director of Girl Up, says. “With the support of the TE Foundation, we are connecting girls globally to how they can make their mark on the world through STEM, igniting their confidence to use their unique perspective to create solutions for social good in their communities and the world.”

SMASH has a stated goal of providing access to technology and engineering for underserved students of color. Its free, multi-year college prep program, SMASH Academy, currently operates in several regions in the U.S. The initial TE Foundation grant not only enabled the organization to open a program at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, but also supported an expanded platform to house an alumni network.

Going forward, the TE Foundation grant will support the completion of the three-year cycle for the inaugural class of students at Wharton, as well as enable the next two cohorts to begin. The TE Foundation has also worked with SMASH to create a TE Fellows Fund at SMASH/Wharton to provide direct financial support to those students. 

TE Foundation funding will also continue to expand the SMASH alumni network, focusing on outreach, programming and conference attendance to help support those who have gone through the program as they move into college and beyond, thereby increasing the likelihood that these students will engage in STEM careers. 

“TE Connectivity has catalyzed the innovation and growth of SMASH. Their funding and support of our programming allows us to expose hundreds of our young people to cutting edge STEM and business education in partnership with Wharton, grow our internship program for SMASH Alumni, and pilot a new program that will ensure our scholars can participate in SMASH and meet the financial needs of their families,” says Eli Kennedy, CEO of SMASH.

FIRST Global runs high-profile, international robotics competitions designed around solving major global challenges with high school aged participants who are ethnically, socioeconomically and gender diverse, inspiring not only those who participate, but also those who watch and follow these events around the world.

The TE Foundation grant will help extend the competition to additional nations where girls are not typically given the opportunity to partake in education or STEM opportunities and help provide the kits needed for the competition. The grant will also support the development of a website forum for participants to stay connected with the long-term goal of creating a formal Alumni Network as a potential avenue for future support. 

“FIRST Global is creating opportunities and inspiring students around the world, thus giving them the necessary tools to solve the global challenges we are all faced with,” says Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST Global. 

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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