For This Foundation, STEM Education and Environmentalism Go Hand in Hand

The Toyota USA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Toyota Motor Sales USA, and places its giving focus where you’d likely guess it would: STEM education. But within that STEM education focus, Toyota (similar to other businesses working in the manufacturing industry) often likes to support environmental conservation, and its giving shows a specific interest in marines, rivers, and other natural water resources.

The K-12 student set is the Toyota Foundation USA's population focus, and it sets its sights on addressing science-oriented marine and river education and awareness through different programmatic approaches, including curriculum development, teacher training, and student engagement.

This is interesting because of the multiple goals this funder is advancing all at once. It's getting kids involved in science, but also cultivating environmental consciousness in the next generation and supporting NGOs in the conservation space. The foundation's approach is also backing the kind of experiential learning that many educators are excited about these days as a way to foster 21st century problem solving skills. 

The Toyota USA Foundation recently gave $180,000 to Earth Echo International (Washington, D.C.) for its Water Planet Challenge, a nationwide program that "equips educators and students to take action on environmental issues by providing training and access to interactive tools and resources." Another $130,000 went to Rocking the Boat (Bronx, New York) for its On-Water Education Program, which "prepares young people for successful transition to adulthood through a wide range of Bronx River environmental research and restoration activities."

The foundation also recently granted $125,000 to the Huron River Watershed Council (Ann Arbor, Michigan) to work with middle and high school programs, teaching the scientific study of local waterways as it connects to environmental stewardship. And not to be overlooked: A recent $2 million dollar grant to the Nature Conservancy (Arlington, Virginia) to create the next generation of conservationists, supporting its Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future program.

The Toyota USA Foundation has an open, online LOI for the Toyota USA Foundation. You can submit year-round, but the decision makers convene twice a year—March and October. Grants are awarded in the spring of every year.

In addition to the Toyota USA Foundation, the car behemoth gives to environmental education and marine and river conservation programs through its corporate side’s Community Outreach coffers, specifically in communities where it has significant manufacturing activities. These include cities and regions in Alabama, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Texas, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. These funds typically support more localized community work. Some states and regions have hard deadlines; others are ongoing opportunities. Check out your geographic preference for details.