Lockheed Martin is a very big defense contractor with a very small customer base: primarily the U.S. government. The company famously cares about what happens in Washington, D.C., judging by the vast fortune it's spent on lobbying in recent decades.
As it turns out, though, Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin also cares about the low-income kids who live in Washington. The D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) are getting a multi-year, multi-million dollar boost from the company in the form of support for Project Lead the Way (PLTW), which bills itself as the "the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs."
Lockheed Martin has committed $6 million to the DCPS so that every school can implement the PLTW program over the next two years.
Why is Lockheed Martin putting up big bucks for STEM education? It sees "a critical need for future engineers, computer scientists, and math- and science-trained professionals" in the coming years, and it wants to prepare as many students as possible for that job market. It also cites underrepresented minority students' access to STEM education as an "area of great interest." Currently, only 10 percent of U.S. scientists and engineers come from underrepresented minority groups.
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The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that STEM-related jobs will increase by nearly double the rate of non-STEM jobs by 2018. It's predicting a shortage of 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs due to a lack of qualified, trained workers. STEM education is one of the primary focuses of Lockheed Martin's giving, but it's not the only focus. It also gives to military and veteran causes and causes that support the needs of the communities where its employees work and live. You can learn more about their application process here.
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit with programs in all 50 states serving more than 6,500 schools. It's all about getting young Americans ready for the global economy. PLTW takes pride in providing rigorous professional development programs for STEM teachers and a hands-on problem-solving approaches for students.
Professionals from Lockheed Martin will also be volunteering in the schools in D.C. to help teach STEM knowledge and skills. “This partnership gives our talented workforce the opportunity to interact one-on-one with students and share the excitement of STEM,” said Stephanie C. Hill, vice president and general manager for Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions Civil business.
Naturally, PLTW is thrilled to have the infusion of cash. "The partnership between Lockheed Martin and D.C. Public Schools, utilizing PLTW’s programs, is a model for how public and private partnerships can help solve the education and workforce development challenges facing our nation,” said PLTW Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer Dr. Rex Bolinger. “We are grateful for Lockheed Martin’s leadership and the opportunities they are creating for students in Washington, D.C.”
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