What's Behind the Big Giving by the Dow Family for Higher Ed STEM?

One of the largest foundations associated with the Dow fortune has made another multi-million-dollar grant for science education in Michigan, the third such donation in recent months. 

This time, the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation gave $4 million to Delta College, a community college near Saginaw, for its work to bring STEM education to middle and high school students in the area. The grant will, in part, fund a 38-foot vehicle customized with science education equipment that will tour the region bringing investigative learning programs to schools and events. 

In June, the foundation gave $5 million to Saginaw Valley State University to support summer camps for middle and high school students in the area, as well as undergraduate research projects. And in July, Michigan Technological University received $5 million toward a collaborative project to reform middle school STEM education.

Related - What This Big Grant to Saginaw Valley State Says About Raising STEM Money

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation is one of the largest funders in the state, and gives exclusively in Michigan, making grants for the arts, science, education, and community. The foundation is based in Midland, and makes most of its grants in that part of the state. It’s one of a handful of funders associated with the family behind Dow Chemical. It is separate, however, from the philanthropic arm of the company, the Dow Chemical Company Foundation, although both give to STEM education.

Related - Dow Chemical Company Foundation: Grants for Science Education

These community and state college grants for STEM education fit right in the wheelhouse of the family foundation, with its interests in science, education, and community improvement. The funder references bolstering the Michigan job market by improving education in the region as part of the grants' motivation. And the foundation seems to be fond of linking up higher ed resources with public school education. 

Related - Fundraising for Higher Ed STEM

One interesting thing about the grant: It was driven by the foundation, with the Midland Daily News reporting that Dow approached Delta College asking for a proposal. The foundation really seems to be lighting fires under these local colleges to whip K-12 education into shape.

“Our proactive STEM initiative has produced several exciting programs in Michigan,” Jenee Velasquez, executive director of the Dow Foundation told the paper.

This is the second-largest grant Delta College has received from the family foundation, but the funder and Dow’s corporate foundation have given significant, ongoing support to the school.

Related: Eight Ways to Land K-12 STEM Funding