WALLINGFORD — CT STEM Academy and Spanish Community of Wallingford hope to win a $10,000 Mobile Beacon Youth Development Grant after being named one of top 10 finalists nationally. But they need assistance, since online voting helps decide the winner.
SCOW and CT STEM Academy partner to cultivate programs for students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; emphasizing cultural diversity, gender equity and family involvement.
Mobile Beacon provides mobile internet access at a low cost to non-profits, schools, health care organizations and libraries. The grant will provide $10,000 and 10 mobile hotspots with free internet.
The partnership between SCOW and CT Stem Academy started in 2011.
Chris Stone, director of CT STEM Academy, discovered the grant through an email and saw it as a perfect opportunity to receive technology upgrades and cash assistance.
“The $10,000 would be a real benefit to the program, having new laptops would help expand the 3D printing program and robotics,” he said. “…The mobile hotspot will allow us to reach some families that do not have that kind of connectivity. We would use it on a loaner basis.”
The donation would be used to cover participation costs for families, material and staffing. It would assist families and students with in-person, online or hybrid programming.
“We feel it is really important to never turn a child away. We always try to make sure we find funding so those students can participate in our programs,” Stone said.
Lizandra Mejias-Salinas, client services specialist at SCOW, said the grant would be a great opportunity to increase funding and provide aid to those experiencing financial difficulties due to the pandemic.
Programming offered through CT STEM Academy includes coding, 3D printing and building STEM kits. Experiences such as family STEM nights and family coding nights, provide families a glimpse at different STEM fields.
The staff funding will be used for high school and college-age students to continue with a work experience program for young people who are helping financially in their households. The students help with various SCOW programs, including CT STEM Academy, Adelante and Pasos Adelante leadership programs, as well as online tutoring sessions.
The budget breakdown for the grant will be $3,000 for staff costs, $2,000 general operating costs and $5,000 for materials such as Hot Spots, webcams, Chromebooks and lighting accessories.
“We appreciate any support from the community in rallying behind us to get as much support behind us in this initiative,” Stone said.