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Community Partnerships Key to Expanding Region’s STEM Ecosystem

Equipping students with 21st century technical skills is crucial to keep pace with the region’s well-established and rapidly growing robotics, autonomy, artificial intelligence and manufacturing engine. 

To close the opportunity gap, build a diverse talent pipeline and promote a more sustainable future, students need equitable access to high-quality, hands-on STEM education—particularly those living in local communities without the resources to fund STEM programs and vital teacher training.   

By bringing together children, families, educators and organizations throughout the southwestern Pennsylvania region, the SAE Foundation’s community-based STEM outreach is helping to provide access to learning experiences for the young learners who need them most.  

Industry partners continue to play a vital role in not only funding the implementation of hands-on STEM curriculum and providing employee volunteer engagement for the implementation in local communities, but also identifying requisite skills for the jobs of tomorrow. 

Thanks to a grant from the PPG Foundation, more than 1,500 sixth graders from more than 20 public schools across Pittsburgh participated in SAE’s award-winning A World In Motion (AWIM) STEM Education Program in 2022 and 2023. Fifty teachers also received training to successfully implement the new AWIM curriculum. 

“We invested in the AWIM program to support its work to advance STEM discovery, create a diverse, skilled STEM workforce, and to help students thrive in science-related fields,” said Malesia Dunn, Executive Director, PPG Foundation and corporate global social responsibility. 

Working together with Allegheny Land Trust (ALT), the SAE Foundation is helping to provide in-school programs for Low-to-Median Income (LMI) and Environmental Justice (EJ) area school districts throughout the region. ALT’s sustainability-focused Investigation Nature program combined with the AWIM Engineering Inspired By Nature Challenge and three Explorations in the AWIM Preschool Series will bring hands-on STEM-based environmental education to 30 classrooms and more than 500 teachers. 

“I envision this partnership really bridging the gap between engineering and the natural world. We have the opportunity to work together to show kids just how incredibly fascinating the natural world is, and how humans have created some amazing feats of engineering derived from nature,” said Julie Travaglini, Senior Director of Education & Curriculum with ALT. 

To meet the growing need of computer science, information technology, and cybersecurity education in schools, the AWIM program is continuing to expand its offerings which include a new Computerized Driver Challenge as well as Cybersecurity: Keeping Our Networks Secure, Programming Each Other, Navigating Digital Universe, and Investigating Digital Citizenship. AWIM’s computer science curriculum is just part of the program’s 20+ PreK-12 STEM education program which spans engineering design, earth and space science, life science, physical science and emerging technologies. 

With more than 30 schools and organizations using AWIM in the Pittsburgh area currently, the opportunities for continued community partnerships will only benefit the students, universities and employers in the region. 

Support SAEs Community-Based STEM Outreach Explore opportunities to get involved as a volunteer, donor or corporate partner in your community: