Why Motorola Makes Better Grants Than Cellphones

Do you ever wonder what employees at Motorola do when they aren't designing some of the world's worst cell phones? Philanthropy. They've given about $30 million since 2007 to develop engineering, science and math programs. Motorola's charitable division, The Motorola Solutions Foundation, gives in the form of what they call "Innovation Grants." They have recently taken an interest in projects that encourage young women to get involved in these traditionally and predominantly male fields.

Luckily for everyone involved, Motorola seems significantly more attenuated to philanthropy than it does to making cell phones that don't break a week after you take them out of the box. According to an August press release, a $50,000 Innovation Grant that they gave to the school district of Illinois to establish the "STEM Equity Academy" produced some concrete results. Since Illinois implemented the programs on Motorola's money, female enrollment in AP chemistry courses at Larkin, a local public high school in a Chicago suburb, jumped by 20%. Bartlett High, a nearby public school, saw an astonishing 46% increase in female enrollments in AP math courses. (See Motorola Solutions Foundation: Grants for Science Education).

Observing the results of Motorola's investment in these and three other high schools in the Chicago region, Mimi Lufkin, CEO of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), advocated openly for a nationalization of STEM Equity Academy's strategy. She called the program a "model of how working together as part of a private-public partnership can make a difference in providing the programs and educational tools we need to tap into an under-represented population in STEM related fields. (See Motorola Solutions Foundation: Grants for STEM Higher Education).

In 2010, Motorola gave an Innovation Grant of $51,000 to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), a collaboration of more than 200 government, universities and non-profits. NCWIT was developing a program called the Award for Aspirations in Computing. The budget expansion allowed the program to enroll more females and to spread awareness about their agenda. (Read Motorola Foundation Director, Matt Blakely's IP profile).

As long as their investments in STEM-related projects that encourage women to enter these fields continues to receive adulation from the peanut gallery, you can expect more money from Motorola Solutions Foundation headed in this direction. Wouldn't you be eager for a bit of positive encouragement after review like this one came out about your products?