How and Where the Hellman Foundation is Targeting STEAM Education Funding

Education and youth development have always been at the heart of Hellman Foundation giving in the Bay Area, but now it’s becoming more targeted with its grantmaking approach. The funder recently awarded a $30,000 grant to recruit girls to participate in science, technology, engineering, applied mathematics, and art design (STEAM) workshops. High-quality summer workshops tend to be somewhat costly for families, but funders like Hellman don’t want girls to miss out on these opportunities just because of money.

Notably, the girls who will benefit from the grant live in the southern part of the state. Hellman typically keeps its grantmaking closer to the Bay Area, but this one is going to the Sally Ride Science Junior Academy in San Diego. It seems that some education issues are too big for tight geographic restrictions, especially when it comes to inspiring young girls.

The academy will use Hellman’s money to provide scholarships over the next three years for students entering grades six through 12. The purpose of this support is to encourage girls to get interested in STEAM subjects and eventually consider entering STEAM careers. And these scholarships will likely go to many girls from military families or who are part of the foster youth system.

Some upcoming workshops involve digital 3D modeling, earthquakes, sea creatures, robotics and computer science. Without a scholarship, each workshop at this academy costs $150, which rules out many girls from low-income families and cuts down on the program’s diversity.

The Hellman Foundation has awarded over $25 million in grants since 2011, and in addition to education, it also funds youth, health, and basic needs causes. Grants that extend beyond the Bay Area, like this one, are few and far between, but as a relatively new foundation, it has acknowledged that it plans to evolve and refine its giving strategy as it gains experience in the years ahead. Perhaps more statewide grants are in Hellman’s future, but then again, there are still lots of unmet needs in the nonprofit-packed Bay Area, so we’ll have to keep an eye on where the funder’s next grants are headed to get a better sense of its geographic commitment.

Unsolicited grant requests are still not accepted by the Hellman Foundation, which is staffed by Hirsch & Associates. You can reach out this philanthropic advisor group’s executive director, Susan Mayer Hirsch, and its director of programs, Betsy Merzenish, via online form or by calling 415-837-5408. Learn more about this funder and what it’s supported recently in the prior IP coverage of the Hellman Foundation.