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Accessing STEM Education: CRSF and Exelon's Transformative Partnership

May 20, 2024

 Amidst a landscape of innovation and inspiration, the grand opening of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation's 500th STEM Center marks a milestone not only in access to STEM education in underserved communities but in the empowerment of future generations. In 2016, we launched the Foundation’s STEM Initiative to provide under-resourced elementary and middle school youth in disadvantaged neighborhoods the opportunity to participate in STEM activities. Today, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation has 502 fully operational, turnkey STEM programs in 23 states and D.C., as well as 21 district-wide public-school systems, impacting over 212,000 kids with the help of over 11,000 teachers/educators/mentors.cal stem

To celebrate the occasion, the Ripken Foundation held a ribbon cutting ceremony at Lansdowne Middle School, which also signified the continuation of a transformative partnership with the Exelon Foundation. In 2024, the Ripken Foundation received a generous $3 million gift from Exelon to open 81 STEM Centers in areas around Atlantic City, NJ; Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; Philadelphia, PA; Wilmington, DE; and Washington, D.C. This 500th STEM Center opening was the first completed Exelon-sponsored Ripken Foundation STEM Center is this 81 STEM Center initiative. The ribbon cutting ceremony included guest speakers Cal Ripken, Jr., co-founder of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, and Calvin Butler, President and CEO of Exelon and Ripken Foundation Board member. “This is all about providing resources that will help kids learn,” said Cal. “It’s hard to believe that we have opened 500 STEM Centers across the country. This is only accomplished through strong partnerships, and Calvin and Exelon are partners and friends. Their generosity makes a real difference in so many communities nationwide.”  Ripken Foundation President and CEO Steve Salem echoed Cal’s sentiment, stating “We are overjoyed to continue our relationship with Exelon under Calvin’s leadership. Their generous gift symbolizes a commitment to provide a cohesive STEM education program that we know will make a difference.”

After the celebration, students participated in STEM demonstrations in the new space. “Having this new STEM Center will mean a lot to students going to high school and to the ones coming elementary school because it will give them new learning experiences,” said 8th grade student Da’Sheyll. Each Ripken STEM Center is fully equipped with technology and furniture packages, educational STEM products with activities, age-appropriate Ripken Foundation STEMcalvin stem curricula, STEM program training for educators, ongoing program and technical support, and the opportunity to participate in the Ripken Foundation National STEM Challenge.

This landmark achievement is not just a celebration of a new Center, it's a testament to Exelon and the Ripken Foundation’s unwavering commitment towards fostering excellence in STEM education. Access to quality STEM education ensures that all students, regardless of socioeconomic background, have equal opportunities to pursue careers in high-demand fields. “We know the value of students gaining knowledge, skills, and confidence in the areas of coding and engineering, which are particularly important to us in the energy industry,” said Butler. “We are thrilled to partner with CRSF and help develop the next generation of STEM experts and the future energy workforce.” He continued, “As one of a few handfuls of African American CEOs across the nation, my job while sitting in this seat is to encourage young people that they can do this,” said Butler.

As this transformative partnership continues to unfold over the next three years, the ripple effect of its 81 STEM Centers will not only enrich the lives of each individual student, but also uplift entire communities, laying the foundation for a brighter, more equitable future for generations to come.

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  • Reach and Impact

    Reach & Impact

    In 2023-24, the Ripken Foundation collaborated with 824 local youth-serving partners and law enforcement agencies in 331 cities and towns in 43 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. Virgin Islands to impact over 1.4 million at-risk youth. The Ripken Foundation Portal, which gives mentors access to our program curriculum guides, impacted 495,252 of those at-risk youth. In addition, we now have 537 STEM Centers completed in 24 states giving over 227,795 kids the early exposure and hands-on opportunity to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

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  • Mentoring

    Mentoring

    In 2023, 25,869 coaches, law enforcement officers, teachers, volunteers, and other youth mentors worked with the kids in our programs. Badges for Baseball, our signature crime prevention and mentoring program, impacted 30,289 kids in 122 communities.

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  • Youth Development Parks

    Youth Development Parks

    We’re adding more of our signature Youth Development Parks every year—creating safe places to play and renewing community pride.

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Testimonials

We love to hear how the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation has positively impacted the lives of our mentors and at-risk youth. If you have a positive experience with the Foundation that you would like to share, please submit a story. You might be featured below or on our social media outlets!

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    Ernie Graham

    I remember meeting Ernie Graham on the second day of the CRSF Summer Camp and listening to the story he told us about how he went from rags to riches to rags. I can honestly say that the summer camp was the reason I came back to school and decided to become a smart athlete.

    Cornell Powell
    Former Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation Summer Camp Participant
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    kids with cop shield

    The Badges for Baseball program was a 100% law enforcement participation program and the kids that participated were at-risk kids who would never speak or communicate with the police. That has changed drastically, these kids now run up to the police cruisers and they want to talk to the police.

    Sgt. Randy Shaw
    Stafford County, Virginia
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    kids playing quickball

    The Badges for Baseball program has yielded results that were unforeseen.  The relationships made will be lifelong and the Green Bay Police Department is eager to continue on with the program.

    Officer Kevin Warych
    Green Bay Police Department
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    kids, baseball glove on head

    This CRSF camp trip was packed with “first’s” for most of the members that joined me: it was the first time these members traveled out of state and for some, the first time at a baseball camp. Although the camp was loaded with memories, what stuck with my group of boys the most was the bonding they had with our roommates after all the activities were done.

    BJ Kolb
    Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay
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    kids with cops

    I can remember back to my first day in the Badges for Baseball program. The police officers were amazing, coming out to all the practices and games. They had a big influence on me, and because of them, I am now studying to become a police officer at Fox Valley Tech in Appleton, Wisconsin. It wouldn’t have been possible without Badges for Baseball. 

    Alex Steward
    Former Badges for Baseball Participant
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    cop with four kids

    I have seen students come out of their shells, they are answering questions, they are building relationships with police officers and it is a very positive program in the schools.

    Tricia Winkler
    Principal, Lima South Science-Technology Magnet
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    kids, joyous arms raised

    Although our gym can be quite chaotic during the Badges for Baseball program, it has been rewarding to see the kids practice sportsmanship and leadership during games. I've had multiple students ask me, ‘Can we come back every day?’ It's questions like those that make all the chaos worthwhile.

    Carrie Marsh
    Mentor, Y of Central Maryland
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