What This Big Grant to Saginaw Valley State Says About Raising STEM Money

A promising avenue to acquire funding for STEM education projects and initiatives is through a foundation affiliated with a science- or technology-oriented corporation or a family foundation with similar interests. Take, for example, the case of Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw, MI, which just received $5 million from a Dow family foundation to expand science, technology, engineering, and math education opportunities for students in the Great Lakes Bay region of Michigan.

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation was established by Grace Dow in memory of her husband, Herbert H. Dow, the founder of Dow Chemical Company, which is headquartered in Midland, MI. The foundation should not be confused with the Dow Chemical Company Foundation, which is that company's philanthropic arm.

The Herbert and Grace Dow Foundation is Michigan's sixth-largest foundation and supports a wide array of projects — educational, scientific, community, and religious — in Michigan.

The $5 million gift to Saginaw Valley State University is the largest in the school's 50-year history. It will establish an endowment known as the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow STEM Scholar Network. The fund's activities will target STEM activities at the middle, high school, and college levels.

For middle and high school students, the fund will support summer camps focused on science and math activities. Beginning in 2015, SVSU will host a four-week summer camp for 60 academically struggling middle school students. It also will host three 80-hour summer programs for high school students. The camps will encourage students to pursue college degrees in STEM fields.

At the college level, the Dow STEM Scholar Network will support undergraduate research projects by SVSU students — an important element of the program, as research funding is often limited for undergraduates majoring in STEM fields.