Dow Chemical Company: Grants for Science Education


OVERVIEW: Dow Chemical’s giving is tied almost indistinguishably to its corporate citizenship program. It prioritizes higher education and K-12 STEM education grantmaking. Dow also offers community awards and has a matching gifts program.

IP TAKE: Dow’s philanthropy is closely integrated with its efforts to boost its reputation as a corporate citizen in ways that bolster its business interests. Dow supports a handful of signature, high-profile programs, but it also directs several million in grants to a long list of colleges and K-12 programs.

PROFILE: In 2004, incoming CEO Andrew Liveris named a new director of corporate citizenship and re-prioritized Dow’s philanthropic and sustainability efforts. The corporation 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.” Dow emphasizes corporate partnerships and initiatives for sustainability, community improvement, and education.

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

For teacher support, Dow partnered with Change the Equation, which looks to improve STEM education overall, including through teacher training. It also recently launched the STEMtheGAP initiative. A major STEMtheGAP activity is the Dow Teacher Challenge, which invites educators to discuss their greatest classroom obstacles and offer their ideas for overcoming them. Teachers with the best submissions are awarded $1,000 each to use in their classrooms. Dow is also a supporter of 100kin10, an initiative to train 100,000 new STEM teachers by 2025.

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. There is also the high school science competition the International Chemistry Olympiad. In addition to science competitions and awards, Dow also gives several million to universities in support of basic science education needs.

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's other major priority in STEM education is for K-12 teachers and students. The company supports K-12 education internationally through programs such as “Dow Chemistry Class,” in which students in Thailand recently were able to conduct small-scale in-class experiments.

In addition to large grants to big educational institutions, this funder makes hundreds of modest grants annually (including for STEM education), including many for as small as several hundred dollars in a recent year.

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.