One of the emerging priorities of the Foundation is giving underserved youth in disadvantaged neighborhoods the opportunity to participate in STEM programs. According to a 2011 Harvard study, “there is widespread recognition of the need for literacy and proficiency in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to navigate the modern world. Furthermore, there is an urgent national priority to transform STEM learning and engagement in order to meet the nation’s need for a STEM-skilled workforce.” The afterschool setting presents an opportunity to reach the vulnerable populations we need to bring into the STEM pipeline through experiences that supplement and complement the school day.
In November 2016, we began phase one of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation STEM initiative by creating STEM Centers throughout the U.S. including: Bakersfield, CA; Greensboro, NC; Harrisburg, PA; Havre de Grace, MD; Houston, TX; Jersey City, NJ; Lumberton, NC; Minneapolis, MN; Naples, FL; and Snohomish, WA. These centers are provided with an assortment of products that enhance the facilitation of STEM programming. We created a curriculum to accompany the products provided to STEM Centers to assist mentors and educators in using the materials to deliver effective programming. During phase two of our STEM initiative, the Foundation would like to create a national curriculum flipbook that can be distributed throughout the country. Our local partners who are currently delivering the Foundation’s youth development programs will be able to engage our program participants in STEM curriculum.
The Ripken Foundation STEM Centers would not be possible without the support of our donors and sponsors. The idea for Ripken STEM Centers came about from a relationship with the Schwab Family who created the first MAST (Madison, Alexa, Sammy, Tina) STEM Center in Harrisburg, PA. MAST wanted to inspire STEM education in at-risk communities around the country that needed support from partner organizations. Our thanks to the Schwab Family and MAST for inspiring the first Ripken Foundation STEM Center, and paving the way for this STEM opportunity for many youth nationwide. We would also like to thank our sponsor, Battelle who provided support making Ripken Foundation STEM Centers a reality.
Thanks to the generosity of donors, we are able to provide a limited number of STEM Centers with the following products:
• 3D Printer
• MaKey MaKey
• Snap Circuits
• Squishy Circuits