GASEF Funding Awards April 2024

On April 25, 2024, the General Atomics Sciences Education Foundation announced awards of $42,000 in funding to 9 organizations and programs to improve K-12 STEM education. 

1. $10,000 to San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum for their Access for All STEM Scholarships
Funding will support the Access for All STEM Scholarships to help San Diego Children's Discovery Museum provide STEM education that will reach approximately 700 children in geographically under-resourced, economically disadvantaged, and marginalized communities in San Diego County for March 2024-January 2025. The program enables the Museum to offer STEM enrichment programs, Onsite Field Trips, and the Mobile Children’s Museum at no cost to students who will benefit the most. In the past year, SDCDM partnered with ten school districts, served 103,287 children and families onsite, created and distributed 10,300 activity kits, and hosted 46 onsite special events and served 10,393 children through the Mobile Children’s Museum workshops, with 90% from underserved communities. The Museum’s STEM offerings bridge the gap in educational attainment by offering curriculum-based STEM and Art field trips, mobile workshops, and mobile exhibits to low-income children from preschool through to 5th grade. The experiences integrate STEM with social-emotional learning and purposeful play and align with California State Standards, including Common Core State Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards. The Museum is the only hands on, educational children's museum in North San Diego County, delivering enriching educational opportunities in STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and math), purposeful play, and social-emotional learning to children ages 0-10.

2. $5,000 to Ocean Discovery Institute for their In-School program
Funding will support the tuition free In-School Program for the 2024-2025 school year. It reaches  approximately 5,500 students at eleven elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school in City Heights, a low-income, racially diverse community. Our curricula are grade-level specific and aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards to support student academic achievement by  implementing what they are learning in school. From elementary to high school, the students participate in various experiences each year, including a lesson in school from Ocean Discovery Instructors, exploring a coastal watershed habitat, and learning how they can make a difference on-site at our Living Lab. These components build on each other, so within a single month, students are welcomed into the community of scientists through community-building activities, taken to observe a coastal habitat in "real life," and learn how they can make an immediate impact in their community to benefit the environment. Students meet with science mentors, professionals, and program alums who expose students to careers in science, talk about their jobs, and offer them advice on pursuing a future in science. Student demographics are 67% Hispanic/Latino, 10% Asian, 8% Black. The program was awarded The White House's Presidential Award for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring in 2010.

3. $5,000 to San Diego Natural History Museum for their Museum Access Fund program
Funding will support the Museum Access Fund (MAF) education program, allowing students from Title I schools, where 40% or more of their student population are from low-income households, to enroll in our in-house education programs at no cost to them or their schools in San Diego County.  The timeframe is within one calendar year of funding. We work closely with the largest school district in our region, the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). SDUSD has an extremely diverse student population, with 46.5% Hispanic, 23.4% White, 10.2% African American, 5.4% Filipino, 4.9% Indo-Chinese, 3.3% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 0.6% Pacific Islander, and 5.4% Multi Racial/Ethn. Approximately 60% of students are eligible for the free or reduced meals program. The funding will support student field trips to the museum, access to virtual programs, Nature to You resources, and outdoor engagement. For example, one of our most popular program offerings, Rockin’ Fossils, was enjoyed by 481 students from 10 schools throughout the county and this is just one of our over 20 educator-led in-Museum programs. Last year, the MAF served 4,000 students from all grades and from 37 different zip codes throughout San Diego County.

4. $5,000 to San Diego Fleet Week Foundation for their Student STEM Days
Funding will be used to offset the costs associated with producing Fleet Week San Diego’s “Student Stem Days 2023” which were held 8-9 Nov 2023. The San Diego Fleet Week Foundation offered to help offset the cost of transportation for those schools needing financial support. This effort was primarily directed toward schools located in San Diego’s underserved communities, resulting in schools from underserved communities increasing from six in 2018 to twelve in 2023. 3,700 students from 46 schools participated in this program in 2023. where the student participation has tripled since 2021. In addition to the cost of the buses, the increase in the number of students by nearly 1,000 necessitated the hiring of an additional part time employee whose primary function was to coordinate the scheduling and administration of the participating students. The financial support of the GASEF will be used to offset these additional costs and will ensure that the San Diego Fleet Week Foundation is able to continue with the Student STEM Program. The feedback that the San Diego Fleet Week Foundation has received over the past five years indicates that Student STEM Days has made a significant positive impact on the students that attend.  GA has been a participant for the past 2 years in this 5-day event.

5. $2,500 to Classics 4 Kids for their STEAM Orchestra Concerts
Funding will provide subsidized tickets and FREE bus transportation for approximately 1,000 students from low-income (Title 1) elementary schools in San Diego County to attend one of our 6 educational STEAM orchestra concerts. This explosive STEAM concert combines the wonders of astronomy and the power of music. This educational program will include a partnership with a local science education nonprofit to feature a guest speaker to be integrated into the program. Conductor’s Zimbric’s STEAM concert combines the wonders of astronomy and the power of music. Students will discover how composers have drawn inspiration from the cosmos while unraveling scientific concepts about outer space. Special guest Dr. Lisa Will, Resident Astronomer at the Fleet Science Center and Professor of Astronomy & Physics at San Diego City College, will join the Classics Philharmonic Orchestra to ignite students’ imaginations. We will produce two shows at the Balboa Theatre (downtown), and 4 shows at the Joan B. Kroc Theatre (City Heights), with the potential to serve up to 5,000 students. All shows feature Conductor Dana Zimbric and the Classics Philharmonic Orchestra. Demographics of our student audience are expected to be: Asian – 13%, Biracial – 5%, Black – 5%, Hispanic – 35%, Native American – 1%, White – 41%.  This project will benefit traditionally underserved San Diego County students by building skillsets in fields that are essential in STEM disciplines.

6. $5,000 to  Nativity Prep Academy for their STEM Center
Funding will be used to help complete the Idea Lab and Robotics Room in our new STEM Center, including the purchase of computers, iPads, Robotics and Production equipment that will be part of the STEM Center. Nativity Prep is the only all scholarship school in San Diego for students who are the first in their families to attend college and all are English Language Learners. In the last 6 years, 100% of our high school graduates will pursue collegiate studies. 90% of students are Hispanic/Latino, 5% Asian, and 5% multiracial, with 100% from historically under-resourced communities, 90% qualifying for free or reduced lunch. Nativity Prep is a college completion program spanning 11 years (middle and high school to college) to prepare more than 250 students for college and families must commit to supporting their child all 11 years.  The school does not receive funding from the Catholic Diocese of San Diego. Nativity Prep is currently building a new state-of-the-art STEM center which will include an idea lab, production studio, robotics room, and coding center. The program is designed as an early-intervention program to spark students’ interest in STEM concepts so they can take full advantage of continuing their learning in STEM fields throughout high school and college.

7. $2,500 to Ready Now Foundation for their AI/Machine Learning program
Funds will be used to cover costs for a 3-week AI/Machine Learning summer course for up to 24 students from July 8-25, 2024. The purpose of this course is to show how the math that high school students learn every day is the perfect entry point to understanding how A.I./Machine Learning works. We will start with the linear function and work our way through the role that the linear function plays in Calculus, Linear Regression and Neural Networks, but this is not just a math class. The students will be able to experience how the math is expressed in these algorithms through small snippets of code written in Python/Mojo. This summer program is expected to support 24 students in total, 12 from McDaniel High School in Portland, OR, with 63% minority enrollment and 12 from San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, which is considered California’s most diverse school with a minority enrollment of 82% with 41% classified as being economically disadvantaged. One of the goals of The Ready Now Foundation is to encourage and empower students to seek opportunities to engineer solutions to problems that they see every day. The encouragement part will come from classes, such as the A.I. course, and talks and mentorship from engineers in industry. Another goal is using what we learn from the students’ use of the devices and sharing that information with San Diego Unified School District, Portland Public Schools, as well as other interested school districts so that they can have a better understanding of how to right-size technology for the classroom.

8. $2,000 to Youth Inspiration Nation for their Aviation Education 4 Kids  programs
Youth Inspiration Nation has been dedicated to providing aviation education to underserved communities since its founding in 2017. We're a small non-profit that teaches 5th - 8th grade students how to fly using static and full motion flight simulators. We truly have one of the most unique non-profits in the country. In early 2020, we became the first organization to have an aviation program with a full motion flight simulator inside an elementary school classroom in the US. Our programs have consistently received positive feedback and have made a powerful impact on the lives of the students we serve. Since losing our classroom in 2020 due to the pandemic, we successfully reopened The Aviation Education 4 Kids Workshop in 2023 and are currently inspiring 5th - 8th grade students to pursue aviation and STEM-related careers in the most unique after-school program in the country. The requested funding will support the expansion and enhancement of our Aviation Education 4 Kids Workshop over the next 12 months. Specifically, the funds will be used to: 1. Purchase additional flight simulators and aviation equipment to accommodate a larger number of students. 2. Develop and implement new curriculum materials to further engage students and enhance learning outcomes. 3. Provide transportation and logistical support for students from underserved communities to attend our workshops. 4. Conduct outreach and marketing efforts to increase program awareness and participation.

9. $5,000 to North County Education Foundation for their Super STEM Saturday  event
The sponsorship funds will go to pay for Super STEM Saturday event fees and expenses including exhibition booth table and canopy rentals, event parking, program printing, t-shirts, attendee bags, facility rental, etc. This event usually attracts over 18,000 attendees from in and around San Diego. It
includes all youths (4 – 16) and demographics in our region a special focus on K-12 students interested in the STEM disciplines and careers. Super STEM Saturday welcomes thousands of families to the campus of Cal State San Marcos to discover science, reimagine technology, create engineering, and explore
math concepts. With nearly 120 hands-on, interactive STEM activities and demonstrations, Super STEM closes the ten-day San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering, the largest celebration of innovation and science education in Southern California. We hope this event will inspire some of the youth to pursue a career in STEM and make a long-lasting contribution with their vocation.