Introducing Bridge Grants for Science Engagement Organizations

STEM From Dance and Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics each received five-year grants to chart paths toward sustainability and continued long-term impact.

The Simons Foundation’s Science, Society & Culture division is thrilled to announce the first recipients of a new grant recognizing outstanding and sustained contributions to the field of science engagement. Called the Bridge Grant, the opportunity is open to members of the division’s Science Sandbox community of grantees. These grants will be funded by the Simons Foundation and Simons Foundation International and administered by the Simons Foundation’s Science, Society & Culture division.

The first recipients of the new grant are Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM) and STEM From Dance. Both organizations have leveraged catalytic funding from Science Sandbox to create lasting and meaningful opportunities for their communities.

Each organization will receive $2.5 million over five years. The grants are structured to provide flexibility; the organizations are encouraged to use the funds to support operations-related costs that are not always attractive to funders. The grantees are expected to utilize the grant period to consider the future of their organization in the context of long-term sustainability.

Since its inception in 2016, Science Sandbox has supported emerging projects and organizations across media, live events, informal education and more. Science Sandbox has helped dozens of organizations scale their reach, grow their staff and operating budgets, and push the boundaries of what’s possible in the field.

Science Sandbox’s successes and learning experiences revealed a clear need to support organizations as they grow from early-stage nonprofits to robust organizations that have begun to establish permanency in the places they operate and no longer fit the profile of a typical Science Sandbox project. In response to this need, we created the Bridge Grant.

BEAM and STEM From Dance have both been Science Sandbox awardees for more than five years, and both organizations met the grant’s criteria of demonstrating leadership in the field, significant organizational growth and consistently excellent programming. After submitting proposals and presenting before the Science, Society & Culture advisory board in November 2023, BEAM and STEM From Dance were each awarded Bridge Grants.

BEAM connects students to advanced mathematical studies and builds community, resilience and joy in learning. Based in New York City and Los Angeles, BEAM reaches underserved and academically eager students early in their STEM journeys. The organization not only helps them excel in math but also supports them for the rest of their academic lives and beyond. Check out the newest video in our Stories of Impact series for more on BEAM.

STEM From Dance combines the joy and rich history of dance with technology and science learning to create memorable experiences for the girls they serve. Working primarily with Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and Latina girls and gender-expansive youth, STEM From Dance offers several programs, including Girls Rise Up, a summer program where participants incorporate science and technology into dance routines. Watch our Stories of Impact video from 2019 for more on STEM From Dance.

In developing this grant fund, we considered criteria like mentoring, organizational and leadership support, and how these organizations might give back to the current Science Sandbox community. Working with our advisory board and other partners, we’re providing grantees with networking and development programs, as well as continued opportunities to interact with other Science Sandbox awardees. One such opportunity will occur during our next annual Science Sandbox Awardee Summit.

In the tradition of Science Sandbox, this initial round of grants is very much a pilot. We will experiment with how to provide the best support possible and expect to learn a lot from the process. Our experiences with BEAM and STEM From Dance will inform the next iteration of the Bridge Grant, and we’re excited to share stories and lessons learned with our broader community.

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