Dow Chemical Company: Grants for STEM Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Dow Chemical does much of its grantmaking through its corporate citizenship program. Two of its funding priorities are higher education and K-12 STEM education. The latter focus sometimes incorporates initiatives from postsecondary institutions. Dow also offers community awards and has a matching gifts program.

IP TAKE: Dow’s philanthropy is closely integrated with efforts to boost its reputation as a responsible corporate citizen. In addition to a handful of signature high-profile programs, Dow also directs several million in grants to a long list of colleges and universities.

PROFILE: In 2004, incoming CEO Andrew Liveris named a new director of corporate citizenship and re-prioritized the Dow Chemical Company’s philanthropic and sustainability efforts to better integrate with the corporation’s business strategy. That means there’s less of a distinct foundation with separate public priorities, and more of an emphasis on corporate partnerships and initiatives for sustainability, community improvement, and education. In contrast to its corporate ethos, Dow Chemical's philanthropy seeks “game-changing collaboration opportunities to set a higher bar for social and environmental progress” and “aim[s] to advance the well-being of humanity by helping lead the transition to a sustainable planet and society.”

Many partnerships focus on what Dow calls “building the workforce of tomorrow” and relate to STEM education through job training, teacher training, partnerships with higher education institutions, and science competitions.

Related to workforce training, Dow partnered with Siemens and Alcoa to study “best apprenticeship practices in Germany and other countries in Europe in support of a new U.S. model,” the result of which will be a “playbook” designed to facilitate effective apprenticeships, including for U.S. military veterans. The company also hosts a symposium “primarily intended to introduce African American, Hispanic, Native American U.S. doctoral and postdoctoral scientists to [...] careers in industrial research,” including at Dow.

Among the many competitions Dow supports is the Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award, which goes to graduate students at pre-selected universities around the world working on sustainability research projects, especially those with an interdisciplinary component. Awards are $10,000 for the winner and $2,500 for the runner up. Dow also supports the Chemical Education Foundation’s You Be the Chemist Challenge as well as the FIRST Robotics competition. In addition to science competitions and awards, Dow also gives several million to universities in support of basic science education needs.

In addition to science competitions and awards, Dow also gives to universities through its “Academic Collaborations” and its “University Partnership Initiative.” Under the UPI (founded in 2011 with a commitment to give $250 million to 11 universities over 10 years), for example, Dow awarded $3.5 million to UC Berkeley to rebuild teaching labs and expand curriculum for sustainability and green building. Additionally, it gave $10 million to the University of Michigan towards the Dow sustainability Fellows Program, which “supports full-time graduate students and postdoctoral scholars at the university who are committed to finding interdisciplinary, actionable, and meaningful sustainability solutions on local-to-global scales."

Lastly for higher education, Dow’s Matching Gifts program matches donations from Dow employees dollar for dollar, up to $10,000 per individual and $100,000 per institution each year. New grantseekers should note that only colleges and universities and their affiliates are eligible for these awards.

Dow also has a community grant program called DowGives, which serves specific communities throughout the country, including in Michigan, Tennessee, and the Delaware Valley. Applications for this are administered locally.

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