Area Foundation Supports Nonprofits Promoting STEM Learning
By James Courtney
SAN ANTONIO — As we previously reported, the Area Foundation is proud to join UP Partnership to boost, via our first-ever Youth Leadership Development (YLD) grants and Artist Fellowship grants, nonprofit organizations whose work empowers and amplifies the talents and voices of young people across our community.
In what we’re calling the YLD Spotlight Series showcasing the vital work of these grantees, we checked in San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT) and Dee Howard Foundation (DHF), both of which emphasize STEM learning.
Cliff Zintgraff, Chief Learning Officer for SAMSAT— which strives to inspire innovation through STEM programming, education and training — said that the YLD grant will help provide “a more stable platform for program development over a two-year timeframe, and greater capacity for teacher and student outreach.”
In particular, Zintgraff said, the funds will be put to good use in supporting SAMSAT’s annual program SA Smart: The Mayor’s K-12 Smart City Challenge, a team competition that puts area students in the driver’s seat as scientific, civic and business leaders, inviting them to address challenges facing San Antonio between now and 2040.
“It’s a core belief of our program that youth learn more when they are challenged with real-world problems of special importance to their local community, and that when given leadership and a voice, they will in turn contribute to solutions,” Zintgraff said.
Meanwhile, Christina Martinez, Executive Director at DHF, said that her organization, which focuses on developing and supporting women and other minority and underserved students, said that she feels “proud to be aligned” with the vision of UP Partnership and the Area Foundation.
“We have been volunteer-run for the last 4 years, but out of demand for services and in line with the vision of our board of directors, we have set out a path towards sustainability and growth,” she said. The YLD grant will help greatly with this endeavor, she added.
Martinez said that “young people are at the center” of all of DHF’s activities and that the organization subscribes to a core belief that “young people cannot be what they do not see.”
As such, she said, it is important to “make sure that young people see adults like them in the fields of Aviation and Aerospace.”
Both SAMSAT and DHF leaders expressed not only the usefulness of these funds at this moment in time but their sheer necessity for their respective organizations. If nonprofits that empower and motivate young people in STEM fields are to continue pushing for equity and the innovation that comes with it, they must be properly supported and that’s why the Area Foundation is proud to be able to help with this mission.
James Courtney is a freelance writer in San Antonio and a member of the San Antonio Area Foundation Marketing and Communication Department’s new Storytelling Ambassador contributor network.