students at a stem fair in rtp
Published Author Category News from RTP, News from RTP, RTP, STEM RTP

The successful STEM outreach initiative will pivot from in-person events to grant making

[May 3, 2021 – RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC] The Research Triangle Foundation Charitable Fund, on behalf of the 310 companies that call RTP home, announced today a new direction for the highly successful STEM RTP program.

STEM RTP was established in 2014 to provide enhanced STEM programming for public primary schools in the Triangle Region and to enhance science curricula for students in underserved communities. Recognizing resource disparities among schools in our various districts, companies in RTP, through a special assessment from its tax district and corporate philanthropy, leveraged a four-year grant from AmeriCorps VISTA to conduct STEM fairs at RTP, a teacher mentorship partnership with Park companies, and other hands-on programs. During this time, STEM RTP served more than 10,000 North Carolina students and teachers.

When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted STEM RTP’s ability to sponsor in-person events in early 2020, the RTF Charitable Fund, in partnership with the RTP Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Collective, conducted an assessment of STEM RTP. The focus of the assessment was to continue the program with enhanced impact for students and young adults experiencing educational and job-readiness gaps. As a result, the DEI Collective recognized that the program’s funding could go a lot further by granting it to deserving organizations in North Carolina.

RTP-based Fidelity Charitable has volunteered staff to advise on transitioning STEM RTP into a grant-making program that will award competitive grants to existing programs in North Carolina that have demonstrated efficacy, and will use the grant funds to scale up those efforts. Fidelity Charitable marks its 30th anniversary this year as an independent public charity and sponsor of the first national donor-advised fund program. As the nation’s largest grantmaker, it facilitated $51 billion in donor-recommended grants to 328,000 charities since its inception in 1991. Half of those dollars were granted in the past five years.

The RTP DEI Collective will lead the new STEM RTP grant program, with the support of Fidelity Charitable and Research Triangle Foundation staff. “The RTP DEI Collective is eager to provide support as we transition into a new and more intentional strategy to make a greater impact across small organizations that support STEM and that seek to lift up marginalized groups in underserved North Carolina communities,” says Tamara Terry, research survey scientist at RTI International and chair of the RTP DEI Collective. “Our capacity to diversify the talent pipeline in the RTP is contingent on our ability to plant seeds via grants to organizations that feed the promotion of STEM careers.”

Leslie Lillard Walden, RTP Charitable Fund Chair, added, “There is no better time than now for Research Triangle Park to take a leadership role on diversity and inclusion by investing in community organizations that are leading the way and making big impacts in our region and across the state.”

The recipients for 2020/21 include Code the Dream, an organization providing free intensive training in software development to people from diverse backgrounds; the Kramden Institute, which collects, refurbishes and awards computers to students and families in need; and WomenNC, whose mission is to empower the next generation to advance gender equality. Each organization will receive a grant in the amount of $25,000 to support their work.

“Code the Dream opens a win-win path for young people from diverse backgrounds to gain real-world experience and new opportunities in tech, to build a better life for themselves and a better world for us all,” says executive director Dan Rearick. “We are grateful for RTP’s commitment to these same principles and for the support to make it possible.”

“The programs we offer have a direct, tangible impact on the lives of those we serve,” said Cari DelMariani, director of programs at Kramden. “The generous support of the RTP Charitable Fund will enable us to reach even more local families to provide computers and training in order to get them over the digital divide.”

“The most important way we operationalize our mission is through our Youth Leadership Training Program,” says Maria Murray Riemann, executive director of WomenNC. “Funds from this generous grant will be used to support students in this program, strengthen our organizational capacity and expand WNC’s footprint in the state.”

The next request for proposals will be issued in summer 2021, with the expectation that the grant opportunity will recur on an annual basis.

About the Research Triangle Foundation

Since 1959, the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina has served Research Triangle Park in its mission to facilitate collaboration among our region’s industries, universities and workforce, and create economic impact for the citizens of North Carolina by attracting the world’s most innovative companies and top-tier talent to North Carolina. Situated centrally among Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, RTP contains 7,000 acres, 55,000 employees, and over 300 companies and national labs, including Biogen, EPA, GlaxoSmithKline, Cisco Systems, Credit Suisse, NIEHS, Fidelity Investments, IBM, BASF, United Therapeutics and RTI International.

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