A Look Inside Toshiba America Foundation's K-12 Education Giving

Toshiba America Foundation, the U.S. philanthropic arm of the Japanese electronics and engineering giant, focuses on K-12 STEM learning by supporting classroom teachers.  It's a great potential resource for STEM classroom teachers who have a specific, hands-on project they want to implement. But before you jump in, here are three things you need to know:

1. Toshiba America Foundation won't give you computers. The foundation actually really likes to support tangible materials to make your project happen. In fact, for its granting to K-5 STEM projects, the foundation will fund materials for those projects and nothing else (up to $1,000 for you to get what you need). Just don't present the foundation with a scheme whereby it ships Toshiba computers to your classroom. It's not going to happen.

2. Innovation is Watchword #1. When it comes to its K-5 STEM project support, the Toshiba America Foundation asks teachers to present an "innovative idea for improving math or science instruction." What does "innovative" mean to the Toshiba America Foundation? "Fun" might be part of the answer, since the foundation also asks you to share what “you need to make learning math and science fun for your students.” The foundation also sees innovation in projects that grow out of students’ own curiosities, as well as those that capitalize on the expertise of “community partners.”

3. Engagement is Watchword #2 . The foundation's grants for Grades 6-12 classroom STEM projects are more in-depth than those for younger students. In this age group, Toshiba America Foundation will provide funding beyond the materials necessary to make the project happen, and grants can come in either the “$5,000 or less” or “more than $5,000” categories. When doling out these grants, the foundation is looking for teachers who are “passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging” for their students. A look at recent giving in this arena suggests that engagement means letting students build cool stuff (car alarms), make use of cutting edge technologies (3D printing), and prepare for professional careers (certified nurses aid certification).

So look for laptops elsewhere, embrace a couple of key vocabulary points, and check out the foundation's application deadlines.