We're constantly struck by just how many large corporations embrace STEM education in their giving programs, and car companies are no exception. We've written a bit about the STEM giving of Toyota and Honda, two companies with extensive operations in the United States that have no doubt helped familiarize their top executives with the urgent need to improve the math and science chops of American students at all levels.
But GM is another carmaker that backs STEM education, recently making a $2.9 million round of higher ed grants.
General Motors had a brutal 2014 with millions of vehicles recalled, but it remains one of the world’s largest global auto manufacturers. Like the philanthropy of many companies that traffic in technical manufacturing and engineering jobs and rely heavily on skilled workers, GM’s corporate giving is loaded with grants for science education. This is a great example of self-interested corporate funding aligning nicely with important needs in U.S. society. While much of the funding goes to Detroit schools, higher-ed institutions nationwide receive support with emphases on manufacturing and diversity programs.
In December, the company gave $2.87 million to 29 universities and organizations working in higher ed for STEM.
General Motors has had a corporate foundation since 1976, which has given in fields of education, health and human services, environment, and community development, with a focus on areas where the company operates. But these days, the company's top priority is STEM education. In the last decade, the GM Foundation cites $45.6 million in grants made to the subject.
The company’s interest in education is motivated by a desire to bolster the American workforce in STEM fields, which drives the auto industry, but also as a means of community revitalization. Specifically, the funder focuses a lot on Detroit, its base of operations, which has seen better days. So most of its K-12 programming involves Detroit schools and educational organizations.
But its collegiate program for STEM is more spread out, especially the University/Organization Partner Program that gives about $3 million annually. The initiative started in 2011 and since then, has made almost $14 million in grants. And there are a lot of grantees.
Colleges receive the bulk of the funding, but are all over the map, including fancy-pants schools like MIT and Stanford, and state schools nationwide. The goal of these grants is to help more STEM majors graduate, supporting manufacturing degree programs, career development, student groups, and diversity initiatives. Diversity is also a priority in the grants that don’t go to schools, but instead benefit organizations like the Society of Women Engineers, the United Negro College Fund, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
We should note that encouraging more women and people of color to enter and stay in STEM fields is a big focus of many of the funders in this space.
As far as non-institutional support, another key grant program for the company is the Buick Achievers Scholarships, which benefit about 50 STEM majors a year, with up to $25,000 per year in support. The next deadline is the end of February.
The company’s foundation accepts applications online.