A $5 million donation from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to Central Michigan University will fund efforts to put middle school students throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region on a path toward STEM careers — those in science, technology, engineering and math.
The substantial investment, received by CMU's College of Education and Human Services, will fund creation and delivery of programming and educational experiences for children aged 10 to 15 and professional development for their teachers.
"This gift from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation is a direct investment in children and in employers who desperately need highly skilled STEM professionals," CMU President George E. Ross said.
"We at Central Michigan University are proud to leverage our 123-year history of leadership in teacher education and to have been selected to spearhead this massive, groundbreaking effort to improve the lives of our youth and the economy of the region."
The initiative will be coordinated through CMU's Center for Excellence in STEM Education.
"In 2014, we joined our partners to fund an assessment of STEM education resources in the Great Lakes Bay Region," said Mike Whiting, president of The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. "Some of the findings of the STEM Impact Study were that the STEM teacher pipeline is declining and there is limited STEM-focused professional development. One of the recommendations was to improve fifth- through eighth-grade math achievement. We are pleased to support CMU and its initiative to directly address these issues."
The CMU project will include efforts such as design and deployment of:
- math and science tutoring resources;
- project-based STEM learning experiences such as drone camps, software engineering and programming opportunities, environmental science research, and tinkering studios;
- opportunities for children and teachers to connect with STEM industry experts;
- on-site programs for girls, students of color, economically disadvantaged and rural populations;
- daylong workshops and a weeklong STEM Summer Institute that arm teachers to better integrate STEM into their classrooms;
- a weeklong research program at the CMU Biological Station on Beaver Island; and
- local experiential learning nights for students and families.
The donation funds programming for five years and creates an endowment that will allow activities to continue beyond that. It is one of the two largest private foundation gifts ever awarded to CMU. The other was a $5 million contribution, also from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, in 2000 for CMU's College of Health Professions.
"The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation is a major influence in helping to set and pursue a dynamic vision for the region," said Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services. "This grant will fuel essential collaboration among middle schools, CMU, other colleges and universities, employers, and community leaders.
"The Great Lakes Bay Region already is a leader in STEM through its major corporations, newer technology companies and health care providers," she said. "With this gift engaging our youth in the excitement and power of STEM fields, the region will be an ever-greater hub in science, technology, engineering and math, producing tremendous outcomes for our communities and our residents."