Funder Collaborative Formed to Increase STEM Youth Programming

$150,000 in grant funding brings a new national program to the region.

Published May 17th, 2023

A partnership called the Youth STEM Funder Collaborative is granting $150,000 to bring the nationally recognized STEM from Dance program to Syracuse. The program integrates science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with the performing arts through project-based, hands-on experiences.

The Youth STEM Funder Collaborative, comprised of the Central New York Community Foundation, Micron Foundation, United Way of Central New York, The Gifford Foundation, and The Allyn Family Foundation, is committing enough funding to host STEM from Dance for two years beginning this summer.

Approximately 400 middle-school aged girls, mostly from communities historically underrepresented in technology careers, are expected to take part in a three-week summer camp followed by four Saturday workshops over the course of a year. La Casita Cultural Center and Community Folk Art Center will receive a portion of the funding to host the camps and workshops.

Micron’s megafab in Clay will create nearly 50,000 New York jobs: 9,000 new high-paying Micron jobs and over 40,000 community jobs. The facility will include four 600,000 square foot cleanrooms, accounting for a total of 2.4 million square feet of cleanroom space. The collaborative is prioritizing funding toward STEM programming that will make these career opportunities available to communities that have been historically underrepresented in the technology sector such as women and people of color. The group plans to continue meeting to inventory the STEM programming available to youth in the region and identify gaps that could be addressed.

Syracuse City School District 2021 data on 4th and 8th grade New York State Education Department (NYSED) science examinations show that Syracuse students underperformed by 50% or less in comparison to their statewide peers and only 20 – 30% of students in grades 3-8 passed the NYSED math examinations.


Qiana Williams, Program Officer, Central New York Community Foundation: “As the Central New York job market continues to evolve, one thing is clear – our region holds promising career opportunities in the science and technology field. Now is the time to prepare local children, especially those who have not been considered for technology careers in the past due to racism and bias, to seize these opportunities for the benefit of our next generation.”

Robert Simmons, Head of Social Impact and STEM Programs, Micron Foundation: “Today, there are far too many barriers to quality STEM education programs and STEM opportunities that are disproportionately experienced by the youth from historically and systemically marginalized  communities in Central New York. We’re committed to collaborating with community members, philanthropy, industry partners and individual donors to actively broaden access and make it easier for students to explore their brilliance in STEM, which therefore impacts the establishing of a diverse workforce at companies like Micron and within the STEM teaching force.”

Luis Escoboza, Chief Impact Officer, United Way of Central New York: “Creating access for underrepresented and marginalized groups is critical to building a community where everyone can thrive. STEM From Dance’s approach to diversifying STEM is not only innovative, but culturally responsive. It builds bridges between young women of color and a field that has historically excluded people of color by leveraging our community’s connection to dance as a form of celebration and expression. I appreciate our Board’s leadership and Micron’s commitment to make proactive investments to address a critical need in our community.”

Sheena Solomon, Executive Director, The Gifford Foundation: “STEM from Dance provides a new ladder for young women to reach the workforce opportunities ahead. Moving forward, we see this as being the beginning of a larger set of initiatives to grow talent within populations that are underrepresented in STEM fields. If we are going to fill the thousands of jobs that the Micron project will bring to CNY, we have to start preparing now by investing in the tools our community needs to succeed in those roles.”

Rasheada Caldwell, Allyn Family Foundation Director of Youth and Community Partnerships: “Dance is a fun and creative way to introduce STEM in urban and underserved communities. This program is timely and relevant and supports the future. Let’s Go!!”

Yamilée Toussaint Beach, Founder and CEO, STEM From Dance: “Girls of color count themselves out of STEM-centered interests and careers before their 10th birthday. Not because they are incapable but because they don’t have the confidence, preparation, and exposure to STEM they need. We are dedicated to changing that reality through the art of dance. Thank you to our generous partners who believe girls should have access to STEM programming infused with creativity and centered on community. We look forward to serving the young minds of Central New York, our future scientists, technologists, and changemakers.”

Tere Paniagua, Executive Director, Office of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community at Syracuse University, and Director of La Casita Cultural Center: “STEM from Dance is an exciting addition to La Casita Cultural Center’s programming, and we are thrilled to work alongside such innovative and impactful organizations locally and nationally. This program aligns with our mission to support and empower underrepresented communities through education and the arts. We believe that STEM from Dance will provide a unique opportunity for young girls in Syracuse to build confidence, develop new skills, and explore the intersections of STEM and the arts.”

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