Freescale, a Motorola spinoff that’s now the seventh-largest semiconductor seller in the U.S., has joined the club of tech companies funding science education. Grants so far are mostly in the Southwest, but also for national programs.
Just under a year old, the Freescale Foundation launched with a $5 million initial commitment and a mission of supporting K-12 science, technology, engineering and math education programs. The first round of grants shows a predilection for informal education programs and contests, unsurprisingly related to computer science and engineering. Like many such corporate STEM funders, diversity is also a big concern.
Freescale might not be a household name, but it was one of the first semiconductor companies in the world, albeit a division of Motorola until it became independent in 2004. The company is global, but based in Austin, Texas and with other national presence mostly in Arizona and California. Freescale also has offices in Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan. Like most corporate foundations, the Freescale Foundation was created to benefit the communities where the company’s 23,000 employees operate, but it also supports national programs.
Freescale’s primary, and apparently only, program funds STEM education initiatives with an emphasis on increasing diversity, working with girls, minorities and other disadvantaged youth from kindergarten through high school. The foundation started in May 2013, and has only issued one round of grants, announced in February. The first year’s application period ran from May through August.
The initial round of grants went to:
- First Bytes, a computer science summer camp at University of Texas at Austin.
- Future City Competition, an engineering competition that challenges adolescents to design a city of the future.
- Girl Scouts of Central Texas, for their work on STEM programs for girls.
- Invent Now, Inc., a nationwide program that provides STEM enrichment for students, teachers, parents and college students.
- Skillpoint Alliance, a Texas organization that holds STEM summer camps for girls and disadvantaged students.
- United Way for Greater Austin, to improve STEM instruction at after-school and summer programs.
As you can see, the first round, at least, is heavily focused on Texas or the Southwest. They’re also a primary sponsor of the Austin Marathon. Science education programs in Texas and Arizona should absolutely consider applying in the 2014 cycle. But given how new the foundation is, Freescale should be one to watch even for national STEM program staff.