This Corporate Funder is Prioritizing STEM Shortfalls in Rural Areas

Source: Inside Philanthropy / Tate Williams

Philanthropy serving rural areas is lacking, and one thing that could really use some help is STEM education. One corporate foundation in Illinois just launched a pilot program to address the problem.

Improving STEM education in K-12 classrooms has become a huge priority for school districts, foundations, and corporate philanthropy. But one area where there’s still a big gap is in rural school districts. Unfortunately, rural areas are notoriously stiffed when it comes to philanthropy.

One recent exception is the foundation of a pharmaceutical company based in Illinois that just launched a pilot program devoted to improving STEM in rural communities.

Students in the rural U.S. face unique or heightened obstacles when it comes to education in STEM subjects. Surveys on the issue have found that parents’ awareness regarding the subjects tends to be lower, and there are misconceptions about whether it’s important or relevant for students outside of cities, or those not planning to pursue advanced degrees.

Teachers feel similarly unprepared, and it can be tough to recruit outside of cities. Rural districts also feel budget constraints more severely than urban and suburban districts, which can limit resources for facilities and supplies.

As a result, these kids fall behind even more than other students. And yet, these fields offer great untapped opportunities, as there are many local STEM-related job options in healthcare, agriculture, or construction, for example.

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