Donna Frisby-Greenwood

President and CEO of the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia Donna Frisby-Greenwood.-Courtesy of the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia.

Global health care company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) recently announced the selection of five grantees as part of its 10-year commitment to increase the number of women and Black and Latinx Philadelphia students entering careers in STEM.

The grants will build on the work of the Philadelphia STEM Equity Collective, a city-wide, collaborative effort launched by GSK and the Philadelphia Education Fund last year. GSK has committed to invest $10 million over 10 years to support the effort.

“We are proud of our long history at GSK of investing philanthropic dollars in STEM education programs in the Philadelphia region, especially those focused on increasing access and improving outcomes for students who are underrepresented in STEM careers,” said Becki Lynch, director of U.S. Community Partnerships at GSK.

“The GSK STEM Equity grantees selected this year have demonstrated a commitment to increasing equity in STEM educational and career pathways and we are excited to support their work to benefit Philadelphia students,” she added.

The Fund For the School District of Philadelphia, an independent nonprofit organization that supports fundraising efforts to benefit the district and its students, received two major grants from GSK.

The Fund’s first grant will support the more than $100,000 purchase of online science lab software for K-12 students so they can engage in inquiry-based science learning from home.

The second grant will support a $500,000, two-year pilot program for 100 district middle school math and science teachers to implement a new curriculum. The funding will also support training, materials and coaching for teachers who will reach 32,000 students across the city.

“Through this important commitment, GSK and the district are prioritizing equity and justice within education to close the racial gaps in STEM learning and career,” said Donna Greenwood-Frisby, president and CEO of the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia.

“The GSK investments are really bringing important tools and training to further focus on STEM education in our public schools,” she said. “These grants will go a long way to helping diversify STEM careers. I cannot wait to see firsthand how the teachers and students use these hands-on stem activities.”

Tienne Myers, science teacher at the John Hancock Demonstration School, said she was excited about what GSK was doing to support STEM education for Philadelphia students. Myers has been teaching science for more than 30 years.

“I would like to send a message of appreciation to GSK for their generous support for STEM education in Philadelphia,” Myers said. “STEM education provides a student-centered approach to education. It encourages creativity, artistic expression, collaboration, computational thinking, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and most of all, curiosity,” she added.

Myers said that the digital resources that GSK will be funding will be the science curriculum Mystery Science, supported by the Next Generation Science Standards.

“The (Mystery Science) lessons provide our K-5 students with current real-world topics that sparked their interest and curiosity,” Myers said. “The efforts of this program seek to increase the number of diverse students that enter STEM careers.”

Myers added, “The program values and promotes diversity in their lessons. This exposure will provide a foundation to all of our young scientists and hopefully close historical gaps that discourage our young women, Latinx and Black students from entering STEM professions. I feel confident that programs like Mystery Science will inspire our students to discover things we never knew existed and become our next generation of leaders.”

GSK is also funding more than $450,000 in grants for enrichment and internship programs that are focused on increasing equity access and success in STEM subjects, including The College of Physicians STEM Internship Program, The Pennsylvania Society of Biomedical Research “SPARC” Program, Philadelphia Robotics Coalition and The Wistar Institute Accelerated Biomedical Technician Training Program.

“The collective effort involving dozens of organizations from across the city is focused on increasing access to STEM education in homes and communities, creating equitable and diverse education to career pathways, and establishing work environments where women, Black people, and Latinx people thrive,” Lynch said. “Working together we can achieve our shared goal to ensure students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to be the future of STEM.”

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