Sprint: Grants for Science Education

OVERVIEW: The Sprint Foundation, the telecommunication giant’s philanthropic arm, supports education, youth development, arts and culture, the environment, and other areas where it sees a critical need. Sprint itself also offers support through technology

IP TAKE: Sprint and its foundation show their commitment to science education primarily through focusing on youth and urban schools. Much of its giving is constrained to the Kansas City metropolitan area, but K-12 organizations outside this area are still eligible for support.

PROFILE: The Sprint Foundation’s focus on education is based on its belief that “a quality education provides our young people with the building blocks they need to achieve success throughout their lives.”

In the science realm, Sprint funds K-12 STEM education and projects that make use of telecommunication—both in the form of cash grants and material goods.

Where the Sprint Foundation does specifically declare itself is in its geography. Its corporate headquarters are in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb in the Kansas City area. That is where the foundation focuses a lot of its giving, with a big focus on STEM education. For instance, the Sprint Foundation is a member of the KC STEM Alliance, “a collaborative network of educators, business partners and affiliates that inspires interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers to generate a robust force of related professionals” in the Kansas City area.

Applications for funding in other regions "are considered on a case-by-case basis." Grants are accepted nearly year-round, "from January through the third Thursday in November every year," and funding requests must be submitted to the foundation through the foundation's online application.

It is worth noting that as a legally separate entity from its namesake company, the foundation is by law unable to provide Sprint products or services to any applicants, nor can it "provide grants to organizations or individuals that will be used to pay bills for Sprint products or services."

Sprint has also also offered education support through the company’s Digital Access program. Separate from the foundation, this initiative is part of Sprint's corporate responsibility program and is dedicated to “enabling connectivity for all includes connecting disadvantaged youth, providing accessible solutions to people with disabilities, and offering affordable wireless phone service to eligible people who couldn’t otherwise afford it.”

Much of this funding goes to education, including through through donation of high-end technology materials. Many awards have been specific to telecommunications, such as the provision of online instruction or on-campus Wi-Fi access. A key initiative here is called ConnectED, through which “Sprint is donating a total of 50,000 lines of service to eligible schools in Sprint Spark markets for distribution to students.”

Sprint has also provided matching gifts of nearly $3 million for "K-12 institutions" in a variety of regions. These donations have generally tended to be on the smaller side, ranging from a few hundred to the low thousands of dollars. In STEM specifically, Sprint says it has “provided more than $450,000 over the past six years to support STEM education programs for K-12 students,” exposing students to STEM-related careers through grants for efforts like curriculum development and afterschool programs.

PEOPLE:

  • Ralph Reid, Vice President of Sprint Corporate Responsibility and President, Sprint Foundation

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