In combination with National STEM/STEAM Day this November, Comcast and the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound (BGCSPS) recently announced their latest partnership, an initiative focused on supporting youth to excel in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (S.T.E.A.M).
Made possible through Project UP, a facet of Comcast’s widespread Internet Essentials program dedicated to providing tools, services, and resources necessary in navigating and accessing online information and technology, they continue to meet the digital inequities many local communities face.
According to U.S. Department of Labor data, some of the fastest-growing jobs, all from the field of S.T.E.M/S.T.E.A.M, rank the highest. As the U.S. falls behind in major areas like science and math, and the gender gap of girls in these fields widens, it’s essential now more than ever to inspire young minds.
They have vowed to bridge the gap with a renewed commitment and Comcast’s pledge of $15,000, 40 laptops, and free internet to five BGCSPS chapters located throughout Tacoma, Bremerton, and Lakewood.
Like Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, Comcast has partnered with a number of non-profits across the country to launch thousands of ‘Lift Zones,’ or safe spaces to make wireless connectivity available to students.
Early partnerships between the two became particularly critical during the beginning of the pandemic, as many students transitioned to virtual learning platforms.
“For kids working remotely, families having internet was critical, and many just did not have that,” says President and CEO of BGCSPS Carrie Holden. “We were very fortunate with the support of the community, and organizations like Comcast, to be able to open our doors to a full day, thirteen hours a day, five days a week, at five of our sites, which were lift zones.”
For parents and caregivers having to return to work, while many students remained without the tools they needed to move forward with their education, the option of a safe learning environment with guidance and access to classes was incredibly reassuring.
With the number of students online within the clubs increasing drastically, previous collaborations with Comcast were an integral part of students’ success. They stepped up to offer high-speed internet to support BGCSPS locations, enabling everything to run smoothly.
While school districts scrambled to get equipment to students, BGCSPS was also able to move laptops out and get them into the hands of kids and families with the help of companies like Comcast.
“We were able to push information out to our families very early on to connect with Comcast for free internet service at their homes through the Internet Essentials Program, which definitely helped a lot of our club member families,” says Holden.
This newest partnership connecting the two and donation of funding, hardware, and internet service allows BGCSPS to move forward with hands-on learning and access to an online curriculum that strongly supports S.T.E.M/S.T.E.A.M-related fields.
Providing thought-provoking lessons that encourage inquisitiveness, problem-solving, and skills towards becoming critical thinkers gives students opportunities that lead to potential career paths.
Along with additional community collaborations, nationally renowned educational programming, and the combined skills of BGCSPS staff, a host of learning activities await young, eager minds. Things like visits to the Tacoma Railyard to see the up-close operation of the port allow a rare glimpse into careers students may never have considered.
“We have a S.T.E.M. academy in partnership with public utilities that lasts for a series of weeks,” says Holden. “Virtual programming is tied in with hands-on activities, whether it’s learning about water filtration and treatment or the electrical grid. We try to keep them grounded in real-world activities.”
As BGCPS pursues further S.T.E.M/S.T.E.A.M areas of study, Comcast will advance its goal of opening more than 90 additional Lift Zones by the end of the year and expanding its Internet Essentials reach.
“We are very pleased with everything Carrie and her team are doing at BGCSPS and how they’re able to take this technology and put it to work to advance STEM education,” says Communications Director with Comcast Washington Andy Colley. “It’s a fantastic partnership all the way around, and we can’t wait to see it evolve and continue to grow in the future.”