Motorola Solutions Foundation: Grants for STEM Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Motorola Solutions Foundation, the philanthropic branch of Motorola Solutions, provides grants in the areas of public safety, first responders, disaster relief, and education, with a heavy emphasis on STEM-related disciplines. Since 2007, the foundation has given more than $40 million in education grants at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels.

IP TAKE: If you want to stimulate young people's interest in pursuing STEM studies in college and improve the diversity of postsecondary STEM training, this funder may have a solution. Keep in mind that Motorola prioritizes projects in areas where it has a corporate presence.

PROFILE: Most corporate foundations pursue a grantmaking strategy that is consistent with their corporate goals. In the case of the Motorola Solutions Foundation, this means a program of philanthropy that emphasizes STEM education. The charitable and philanthropic arm of Motorola Solutions, the foundation works to benefit the communities in which the company operates.

Since 2007, Motorola Solutions Foundation has provided more than $40 million in STEM education grants. Recipients have spanned more than 30 countries and included institutions of higher education, museums, nonprofits, and K-12 school systems. The foundation is especially interested in programs that encourage young women and other underrepresented groups to pursue studies in math, science, and engineering.

In higher education, the foundation's grants previously fell into two categories: grants awarded to national programs and Local Impact grants awarded to state and local institutions. It is not clear based on information on the foundation’s web site whether those categories remain in place.

That said, the foundation’s higher ed program priorities are very clear. The foundation seeks to fund programs that:

 

  • reach out to underrepresented populations, such as women and people of color
  • are “hands-on STEM activities with a special focus on engineering or information technology (IT) concepts such as coding, programming or robotics” and/or that “blend concepts of public safety with STEM concepts and activities”
  • offer “vocational skills and certifications in engineering or IT”
  • “advance students through the education pipeline to more advanced STEM education or careers”
  • “help teachers improve their teaching of STEM subjects”
  • foster collaboration “with other STEM education providers & institutions”
  • “provide Motorola Solutions employees opportunities to volunteer”

Past higher ed grantees have been funded to work on projects such as career development for Latinos with STEM degrees, opportunities for university faculty members (junior and future) and industry professionals to mentor underrepresented students in graduate school and postgraduate careers, efforts to connect teenagers by giving them a chance to work with university undergraduate STEM students, university development of STEM projects and a summer program for First Nation K-12 students, Other higher education STEM grants support outreach efforts similarly designed to increase diversity by stimulating interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics among middle and high school students, especially girls and ethnic minority students.

While itemized grant amounts are not available on the foundation’s web site, the foundation states that awards range from $10,000 to $50,000 in size and average about $30,000. A complete listing of the previous year’s grant recipients can be found on the right-hand side of the foundation’s home page.

New grant guidelines and application deadlines are released for each funding year. Colleges, universities, and other organizations seeking funding should check Motorola's website for information on funding guidelines and application deadlines and should note that applications must be submitted via the foundation’s online application process. Note again that Motorola prefers to fund projects in areas where it has a presence. For the U.S., that means the cities and surrounding regions of Chicago, IL; Plantation, FL; Columbia, MD; Westminster, CO; Lawrenceville, GA; San Diego, CA; Seattle, WA; Salt Lake City, UT, Farmer Branch and Houston, TX; New York City, NY; and Tempe, AZ.

Applying for funding through Motorola is an open but competitive process. International organizations are also eligible to apply. Questions regarding eligibility can be answered via the foundation’s application or by emailing foundation@motorolasolutions.com.

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