Who We Support

We support interdisciplinary projects that explore the intersection of science with art, music, design and more. We power programs that connect science to peoples’ existing interests and identities, with a focus on traditionally underrepresented communities. Programs we fund include informal education experiences, live science events, media productions and capacity building efforts. Below is a list of current and past projects funded by Science Sandbox.

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APH: Abacus Bee

Friendly contest enabling students with vision loss to gain math skills while working alongside their peers.

Established in 1858 in Louisville, Kentucky, APH is the world’s largest nonprofit organization creating accessible products and programs designed to support the educational, workplace and independent living needs of people who are blind or visually impaired. Though APH serves people of all ages, APH remains exceptionally committed to the educational needs of children in grades K–12.

Historically and currently, people with vision loss are not perceived as individuals who have an interest in science and technology, nor an inclination to pursue educational opportunities or employment in STEM fields. APH believes this to be counterintuitive to APH’s own experience in engaging with this community. They seek to ensure that students with vision loss can contribute to the STEM discussion along with their sighted peers, while learning and growing, both personally and professionally.

In 2022, APH is bringing math-oriented skill development and material awareness sessions to the forefront. A large part of this effort is a new initiative: the APH Abacus Bee. The Bee will be a friendly contest, with the goal of enabling students with vision loss to gain math skills while working alongside their peers.

Abacus training is a critical tool for children with vision loss. APH plans for the Abacus Bee to become an annual event that will help to level the STEM playing field for children who are blind or visually impaired.

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ART±BIO Collaborative

Integrating art, science and nature and broadening participation through public engagement, outreach, activism and public art.

ART±BIO Collaborative is an artist and scientist-led organization that fosters the integration of art, science and nature through novel collaborations, public art, activism, public engagement, education and research. The organization is committed to broadening participation, accessibility and equity in the arts and sciences. It creates cross-disciplinary, inclusive and collaborative opportunities for the leadership and participation of historically excluded, underrepresented and marginalized communities. ART±BIO leads outreach summits, field studies, residencies for artists and scientists of color, disaster relief initiatives, as well as art and science outreach events in public parks, K-12 classrooms, art museums, science museums, community centers, science labs, art studios, academic conferences and festivals. The work utilizes the intersection of the Arts, Biology, Natural History and the Life Sciences as a catalyst for social dialogue and creative exchange of ideas with artists, scientists, and diverse publics.

In 2016, ART±BIO Collaborative created and launched ART±BIO Science Murals in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a powerful medium for science communication, community engagement and informal science learning via public art. In 2022, they created the first Science Mural in El Paso, Texas, along the U.S.-Mexico Border, for their inaugural Sun City Art+Science Festival.  

ART±BIO Collaborative will expand the Science Mural initiative in the Paso del Norte region with an annual series of new murals, public engagement events and bilingual enrichments created in collaboration with local artists, scientists, educators and community organizations. ART±BIO Science Murals in El Paso will depict ecological and biological concepts and research and showcase the stunning flora and fauna of the Chihuahuan Desert. Science Murals will inherently connect and expand the community’s relationship with the local ecology and the life sciences and positively inspire the greater public’s reimagining of who can experience and participate in science and art.

Adult helps group of 8 young kids board a school bus labelled biobus
BioBus and BioBase

Mobile lab that brings hands-on science to underserved students in New York City, with a research lab base on the Lower East Side and in Harlem.

The Simons Foundation supports BioBus’s expansion of its community lab programs, which bring hands-on science to students in Harlem, one of Manhattan’s lowest-income school districts, where test scores lag behind citywide levels. The BioBus mobile lab and the BioBase brick-and-mortar lab offer research-grade laboratory experiences led by scientists, giving students from demographics that are underrepresented in STEM careers the opportunity to excel.

The BioBus parks at a school in the New York City area almost every day of the school year and provides an introductory lab course to K-12 students, typically with six classes and up to 180 students per day. BioBus students gain a more positive attitude toward science and are more likely to see themselves in a STEM career.

At the BioBase, students take in-depth classes and participate in after-school programs and summer camps, studying biological, environmental and materials sciences. By designing their own experiments, they gain a better understanding of the complex web of life. As students progress, some become interns and help to develop curriculum for future students.

BioBus hosts ‘science happy hours,’ in which scientists give talks aimed at a general audience, and attends public events to facilitate connections between scientists and the community.

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Biodesign Challenge

International education program and competition that is shaping the first generation of biodesigners.

From the environmental crisis to the pandemic to rapid advances in biotech, we are in a period where biology is driving massive change. Together scientists, artists, and designers are uniquely able to influence society’s relationships with the living world. Their collaborations are essential to the ways society wields biotech to confront today’s challenges. Biodesign Challenge (BDC) bridges art, design, and biology to support a new generation of creators—called biodesigners—who cross disciplines, anticipate promises and pitfalls, engage the public, and innovate.

BDC is a nonprofit education program and competition where students collaborate with artists, designers, and biologists to envision new uses for biotechnology. Projects address areas including textiles, agriculture, urban design, product design, medicine, manufacturing, and more. BDC’s goal is to encourage students to explore biotech’s entanglements within society—in the way it empowers people, contributes to structural inequities, and creates opportunities for change.

To this end, BDC’s goals are threefold: to create a community of collaboration among artists, designers, and biologists; to seed the first generation of biodesigners; and to build meaningful public dialogue about biotech and its uses. BDC partners high school and university students with scientists, artists, and designers to envision transformational applications in biotech. These mentors expose students to emerging biotechnologies and their social impacts.

Each June, teams gather in New York City to showcase their projects before esteemed judges and audiences from academia, industry, and museums to compete for prizes, including BDC’s grand prize—the Glass Microbe.

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Black Girls Dive Foundation

Organization that establishes space and opportunity to empower young ladies to explore their STEM identity through marine science and conservation, and SCUBA diving.

Black Girls Dive Foundation (BGDF) is a volunteer-based, educational non-profit organization founded in 2017 in Maryland. Currently, BGD has local chapters operating in Maryland - Baltimore County and Baltimore City; Trenton, New Jersey, Wilmington, Delaware; and Atlanta., Georgia. BGDF’s mission is to address three critical issues: (1) the racial and socioeconomic achievement gap that undermines our ideals of freedom, equality and opportunity; (2) limited or restricted sense of youth agency and voice; and (3) cultivating the next generation of social conscious divers, scientists, conservationists and planetary stewards.

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Math organization creating pathways for students from low-income and historically marginalized communities to become scientists, mathematicians, engineers and computer scientists.

Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM) connects students to advanced mathematical study and aims to build community, resilience and joy in learning to prepare them to excel. BEAM is the only organization in the U.S. providing comprehensive, long-term support to ensure success in advanced math for students from underserved communities. The organization serves more than a thousand students each year in city-based programs in New York City and Los Angeles and nearly 400 in its pilot National Program.

BEAM provides holistic support, including academic preparation where students learn deep and interesting math; social and emotional support so students are confident with STEM identities; a community of peers where students can see themselves reflected; and individualized guidance and support to access and succeed at strong-fit high schools and colleges, summer STEM programs, internships and careers.

Through its Pathway Program, students are supported for up to 10 years, beginning in middle school and continuing through college graduation, with the ultimate goals of ensuring that students can be successful at STEM majors and enter into STEM careers. At BEAM summer programs, students consistently grow in their problem-solving skills, in their stamina for solving difficult problems, and in their interest in math.

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Chickenshed NYC

Inclusive theater company whose community reflects the vast diversity of the broader population

As a company whose motto is “theatre changing lives,” Chickenshed NYC is committed to theater’s transformative power for individuals and communities. The Chickenshed model is unique in that it brings together members who represent the mosaic of cultures, ethnicities, identities and disabilities that make up our world. Its no-audition policy and inclusive methodology of working with children and youth ensures that each participant can be a successful member of a theatrical community, regardless of differing abilities or societal hurdles.

Chickenshed’s science-influenced artistic program includes immersive musical performances (Adventures from The Shed) for preschoolers (ages 2–5) and their families, and age-grouped theater classes (Chickenshed Players) for children and youth ages 5–18.

Adventures from The Shed leads children through a journey of puppetry, song and movement with elements of American Sign Language (ASL) incorporated into the shows. Children’s love of both the arts and sciences can begin at an early age, and this show exposes young children to basic scientific concepts through the lens of an immersive theatrical experience.

Professionally trained teaching artists guide and empower Chickenshed Players to gain confidence in music, movement and scripting as they hone their performing skills. Chickenshed theatrical programs demonstrate how art and science are not only compatible fields; they can and do enhance each other. Guest scientists help students understand such concepts as biological diversity, habitat, endangered species, astronomy, oceanography and climate change, revealing how theater can be a megaphone for science and how science informs the art that is created.

Chickenshed NYC programs inject STEM elements into its creative practice to create equitable opportunities and explore in more depth what it means to add the “A” to STEM and create STEAM.

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Ciencia Puerto Rico

Organization that advocates for science in Puerto Rico and supports Puerto Rican researchers.

Ciencia Puerto Rico provides a meeting point for a global community of more than 16,000 scientists, students, educators, and allies who understand that science can empower people with the knowledge, ability, and agency to improve their lives and society. The organization leverages this rich and diverse community—the largest collective of people interested in science and Puerto Rico in the world—to democratize science and transform science education and careers. Since 2006, CienciaPR has increased and improved science communication in Puerto Rico, created culturally relevant educational resources and experiences that enhance students' attitudes and interests toward science, and developed training and opportunities to empower members of its community to be agents of change. CienciaPR's efforts over the past decade have garnered multiple accolades, including being named a "Bright Spot" for Hispanic Education by the White House in 2015, "Science Defenders" by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 2018, and winning the Breakthrough of the Year in Science Engagement award at the Falling Walls conference in 2021.

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Critical Ecology Lab

Organization that aims to inspire and deepen the public’s ability to critically think about the social origins of global warming and environmental change.

Critical Ecology Lab (CEL) believes that in order to address the ongoing ecological crisis and centuries of social inequality, scientists and the broad public must see them as interlocking problems. CEL facilitates collaboration between diverse, justice-focused environmental scientists and historically subjugated communities, from hypothesis to investigation and analysis. Through partnerships with community organizations, CEL will investigate shared experiences and cultural memory of BIPOC groups related to themes such as migration, labor, histories of enslavement, food systems, health risk and more. CEL is organizing a series of convenings in partnership with organizations that work with and support Caribbean diaspora communities in the California Bay Area. Focusing their efforts on community building and listening around one specific yet diverse ethnic diaspora will allow CEL to facilitate conversations and activities, including multimedia, oral history, food and scientific presentations during convenings that are geographically and culturally relevant. The results of these convenings will start the process of co-designed, community-driven collaborative environmental projects pertaining to Black and Caribbean ecology.

CEL will also offer a multi-month educational program called Liberation Ecology Field Course. Through the program, Black, Indigenous and people of color from broad walks of life will participate in field-based knowledge and skill building around California ecology through a critical social lens. Applying the research framework of critical ecology, participants will gain fundamental knowledge about the Bay Area landscapes through western and indigenous ecology lenses, will apply direct skills for observing and measuring changing habitats, and will learn to ask environmental questions in ways that challenge social and economic systems that directly impact our planet. CEL aims to inspire and deepen the public's ability to critically think about the social origins of global warming.

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Community-focused program that provides extraordinary opportunities for under-recognized and underrepresented youth

Created by Dr. Whitney Gaskins and the Gaskins Foundation, EPICC STEMulate gives youth resources at many stages of their academic careers, as well as their creative lives. Comprehensive programs are offered to help develop and foster skill sets needed to accomplish a brighter future. The program’s mission is to present, engage and prepare students of all ages to become leaders in STEM using algebra, programming and design concepts.

Empowering Parents in Community Churches (EPICC) STEMulation is designed to transform church meeting spaces into a STEM learning environment. The goal of EPICC STEMulation is to equip church leaders and parents from underrepresented backgrounds with the tools to deliver STEM content contextualized to the lived experiences of those who attend the partner churches. Black churches have traditionally served as places for creating individual, systemic and political change within their communities. Churches utilize their position in the community to train and support those in the most need. As a result, Black churches are ideally situated to offer a new place of STEM learning for the communities they serve.

The organization started as the brainchild of Dr. Whitney Gaskins, 2009’s Miss Black Ohio USA. As Miss Black Ohio, Whitney chose as her platform to increase STEM education for underrepresented youth in our communities. After her tenure, she began conducting STEM workshops throughout the state of Ohio. In 2013, she officially chartered the Gaskins Foundation.

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Futures Ignite

Organization amplifying youth and community power by inspiring, guiding and advocating for youth to determine their college, career and leadership futures.

Founded by the Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS), Futures Ignite is advancing a model of enrichment, youth leadership and work-based learning to strengthen youth postsecondary outcomes, while supporting youth as leaders to create real life solutions to injustices in their communities. Futures Ignite’s Green Corridor Lab trains youth leaders as citizen scientists, who, in turn, provide training and outreach to other young people, families and community members to conduct scientific research to guide tangible action to create a healthier, greener and more livable neighborhood. By focusing on environmental science, climate change and community health, issues that have direct and tangible implications for community members, the Corridor equips youth and community members to understand why science matters to their lives. By getting community members comfortable with hands-on activities like air, water and soil quality monitoring, the Corridor demystifies science and helps participants see themselves as environmental citizen scientists.

Logo composite: Boys & Girls Club of America, National 4-H council, girls inc, YMCA and Imagine Science. The motto
Imagine Science

A collaborative program that implements informal, out-of-school STEM learning for youth in high-need communities across the country.

Solving the STEM crisis is too complex a challenge for any one organization—school, cultural institution, or community-based center— to tackle alone. In response to this need, four of the nation’s largest and most experienced youth development organizations came together in 2015 to launch Imagine Science, an initiative that harnesses and unites the distinct expertise and resources of each organization: YMCA of the USA, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Girls Inc., and the National 4-H Council.

Imagine Science combines the national resources of these four collaborative partners and jointly implements high-quality informal STEM learning during out-of-school time with underrepresented youth in high-need communities around the nation. The initiative follows a common standard of ‘essential program elements’ rooted in evidence-based STEM and out-of-school youth development practices.

Imagine Science (I/S) is the first-ever jointly operated national effort to design and implement high-quality, out-of-school STEM programming for underserved youth. Together, the four partners reach 18 million young people annually in every U.S. state and territory. Their combined assets include more than 110,000 program sites, over 75,000 full-time employees, and 1 million volunteers dedicated to reaching youth.

Following three successful pilot-site launches, Imagine Science is now focused on expanding its national scaling efforts. With philanthropic support from the Simons Foundation, Imagine Science aims to build capacity through additional sites and create a STEM resource repository for broader distribution of quality STEM curricula and activities.

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Imagine Science Films

Organization that pairs scientists and filmmakers to tell stories of current research through innovative artistic techniques.

Imagine Science Films (ISF) promotes a high-level dialogue between scientists and filmmakers. The Symbiosis competition pairs active scientists with diverse filmmakers, who create short films on condensed production schedules during Imagine Science film festivals.

Since 2014, Symbiosis competitions at New York, Paris and Abu Dhabi festivals have showcased the power of concentrated exchanges between working scientists and filmmakers. ISF structures the program with an eye towards facilitating this exchange and the emergence of new forms of science cinema.

Symbiosis films serve not only to capture specific aspects of current research but also to embrace an artistic quality with an emphasis on innovative storytelling. Participating filmmakers with a wide range of interest and expertise in areas such as animation, commercial, documentary, experimental, fiction and virtual reality, music video) provide their own sensibility and filmic influences to these science film projects. Working scientists contribute by sharing personal stories of their research and facilitating access to research spaces.

Scientist-filmmaker pairs work closely with ISF team members and festival alumni, who serve as mentors. By working directly with mentors and being part of all discussions before, during and after the creative process, scientists gain an appreciation for the full power of sharing science through the filmic lens. It is said that people fully integrate new knowledge when they explain it to another. Through filmmaking, scientists complete the process of learning and integrating their area of scientific inquiry by teaching it to others. For their part, filmmakers learn how to document and create narratives about the scientific research process and humanize science.

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Letters to a Pre-Scientist

Pen-pal program that connects students in under-resourced schools with STEM professional mentors for a snail-mail letter exchange during science class.

Letters to a Pre-Scientist (LPS) pairs students in U.S. under-resourced communities with a worldwide network of STEM professionals for a yearlong pen-pal program during science class. Pairs explore STEM careers, higher education journeys, and overcoming obstacles. LPS aims to broaden students’ awareness of what STEM professionals look like and do at work.

Talent and potential are equally distributed in society, but opportunity is not, and students cannot aspire to careers they don’t know exist. Science has never been more important, and society needs all types of people and perspectives to solve the challenging problems of today and tomorrow.

LPS’s mission is to facilitate one-on-one connections between students and STEM professionals in order to demystify STEM career pathways, humanize STEM professionals, and inspire all students to explore a future in STEM.

During the 2021–2022 school year, LPS works with 20 teachers and 850 students in five states.

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Lewis Latimer House — Tinker Lab Summer Programs

A weeklong summer camp offering hands-on STEAM education for underprivileged youth in Queens, NY.

The Tinker Lab Summer Camp at Lewis Latimer House Museum offers no-cost, hands-on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) education to underprivileged youth through a partnership with the Latimer Gardens Community Center — a New York City Housing Authority residence named after the African American inventor.

Each summer camp session features an in-depth weeklong project introducing students to coding, robotics,engineering and art. Parents and guardians are invited to attend a culminating showcase, where campers proudly present their finished projects.

Lewis Latimer House Museum is a New York City landmark, and the historic house of the African American inventor, humanist and son of fugitive slaves, Lewis Howard Latimer. Among his numerous inventions, Latimer invented a method of producing carbon filaments that made the production of light bulbs both practical and affordable for the average household. He worked with Alexander Graham Bell on the patent for the telephone in 1876, and was one of the original 28 Edison Pioneers. The Museum calls attention to Latimer's and other people of color's contributions to technology and American life through multilingual tours, permanent and special exhibitions, literature series, community events and Tinker Lab STEAM educational programs. Latimer’s life story is used as a point of departure from which to examine issues of race, class, immigration and contemporary events.

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Make the Road New York

Community based organization creating a science learning initiative dedicated to engaging Spanish speaking immigrants and their children with New York City math and science learning institutions.

Make the Road New York aims to build the power of immigrant and working-class communities to achieve dignity and justice through four core strategies: community organizing, policy innovation, transformative education and provision of survival services. Founded in 1998, Make the Road New York operates five community centers across NYC, Long Island and Westchester County and has over 24,000 members.

Make the Road has developed a new science learning initiative, which brings together two of the most dynamic projects in the organization: the adult literacy program and the Families in Action organizing committee. The adult literacy program provides classes in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), as well as civics and health career training to approximately 1,400 adults every year. The Families in Action committee organizes families of children in public schools to demand their rights. The project will support Make the Road’s participants — Spanish speaking immigrants and their children — to engage in science and math learning by exploring the city’s rich science and math learning institutions, participating in science-themed activities in Make the Road’s community centers, and by incorporating science content into the organization’s classes in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

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An international live-arts convening of artists, scientists, influencers and machines to develop new works for diverse audiences.

Media Art Xploration (MAX) is a live-arts production company that fosters collaborations between scientists, technologists and artists to harness and interrogate the scientific advances of our times. MAX occupies a special space in New York City's cultural sector by leveraging performing arts to probe STEM advancements for public understanding. By bringing diverse practitioners together, MAX produces installations and performances that further the mission of engaging the public with art, science and technology.

The MAX laboratory, MAXmachina, provides production support and finishing funds, and selects new commissions to artists, scientists and artist-engineers for works that premiere at MAX’s biennial MAXlive live arts festival. Pieces supported by MAX span the genres of dance, music, theater, and interactive installation, achieving a high level of artistry while drawing upon recent scientific research and emerging technologies. Most recently, audiences filled three New York City venues for MAXlive 2021: The Neuroverse, which explored neuroscience, AI and the human-machine interface. MAX also produces MAXforum, conversations between artists and scientists.

MAX works at the conceptual and granular level, drawing on the connection between the creative problem solving of artistic production and that of scientific research and discovery. Participants are connected to an active network of scientific advisors, alumni, and artistic institutions. They are challenged to expand what questions they ask and what might be considered source material for artistic creation. Through this process, projects move beyond the traditional boundaries and elite models of scientific inquiry and artistic endeavor to fashion unique and profound audience experience.

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MIT Museum: Science in Vivo

Science in Vivo “meets people where they are” by bringing science to unexpected venues.

The Science in Vivo project fosters the integration of science into settings where people are not expecting it. The overall goals of the project are to inspire experimentation with — and advance the understanding of — such work. Over the course of three years the project will support teams at 24 sites that bring science experiences to “where the people are.” Nine of these sites will host an observational visit from other science engagement professionals, enabling them to better understand the dynamics at work in these settings. The project incorporates several mechanisms for sharing findings, including the annual Science Events Summit.

The MIT Museum engages the wider community with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s science, technology and other areas of scholarship in ways that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

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Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Science and technology museum cultivating meaningful experiences and partnerships in Chicago neighborhoods.

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) has welcomed over 190 million visitors since opening in 1933. Through immersive exhibits, award-winning education programs and live onsite science, MSI reaches across Chicago and around the world. Interactive, hands-on experiences spark wonder and curiosity while cultivating a lifelong appreciation for science and technology.

Located on the South Side of Chicago, MSI is part of an incredible collection of over 30 neighborhoods rich in artistic, scientific and cultural pride. MSI recognizes that talent and potential exist in all zip codes across the city, but not all resources and opportunities are equally distributed. To achieve the museum’s mission, MSI leverages the collective power of the communities it serves.

MSI is seeking to reimagine the ways in which it can be a learner, resource and true partner to the youth and families in Chicago neighborhoods. MSI will spend a year planning and developing its new STEAM Neighborhoods program. Collaborating with communities to co-create STEAM Neighborhoods will leverage insights and relationships from all MSI’s core education programming and focus novel investments into specific Chicago neighborhoods. This work aims to create direct connections among MSI-supported schools, community-based organizations, parks and libraries to develop hyper-local ‘micro-ecosystems’ around STEAM. Neighborhood interest, excitement and need will drive the strategic and operational approaches. With STEAM Neighborhoods, MSI aims to co-create with community stakeholders a model that facilitates the transformation of an entire neighborhood and activates the talent and potential of the youth and families who live there.

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Museum of the Moving Image

Museum located in Astoria, Queens that explores the central technology of the present moment through exhibitions, film screenings, live conversations with artists and filmmakers, and more.

Since opening its doors in 1988, Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) has been at the forefront of creative, emerging digital technologies in the arts, championing a spectrum of contemporary media — from film and television to digital media and video games. Through exhibitions, education programs, screenings, artist commissions, interpretive programs and its own collection of art and artifacts, MoMI examines the moving image as an art form as well as technical innovations in moving image production, both as a catalyst for invention and an application of new formats and technical advances. Located in Queens, the most diverse location in the world, MoMI welcomes 250,000 visitors and 70,000 students annually, as well as a robust online audience.

In June 2024, MoMI will open its doors for a series of free events that bring into conversation mycologists, biologists and neuroscientists alongside light artists, musicians and filmmakers, exploring how the tools of science and cinema can reveal more of the world than is visible to the naked eye.

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NEW INC Creative Experiments Track

An art/design incubator that brings scientific research into mainstream dialogue, translating complex issues for the general public.

The Creative Experiments Track at NEW INC, the New Museum’s art/design/technology incubator, supports ideation and prototyping of new applications for science through the lens of art and culture. Creative practitioners who are exploring artificial intelligence, robotics, biotech, digital manufacturing and other science-based areas of research through their practice are supported for a 12-month period, with a bespoke development program that leverages the tools of entrepreneurship to help realize their ideas and maximize potential for impact and sustainability.

Practitioners gain access to NEW INC’s shared workspace, hands-on support from NEW INC staff and external mentors, participation in the NEW INC community, and a robust roster of professional development programs and events — including opportunities for networking with the Science Sandbox community and collaboration with MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative. A focus within Creative Experiments is to increase public engagement with science. Through diverse art and design projects, members of this Track bring scientific research into mainstream dialogue, translating complex issues for the general public, and making visible ways that these projects leverage emerging technology, scientific thinking, and creative problem-solving. Projects include innovative approaches to materials and green infrastructure, artworks that engage space, geography and physical senses in surprising ways, and research that interrupts conventional scientific narratives.

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New York Hall of Science

Initiative to develop a creative interdisciplinary approach to STEM learning that can be implemented in immigrant communities.

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) received a five-year grant from the Simons Foundation to launch Queens 20/20, a multifaceted initiative to provide creative STEM educational opportunities for young people and families in Corona, Queens, a neighborhood that is home to many Latino immigrant families. This population represents the largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority group in the country, but it is vastly underrepresented in science and technology disciplines. Support from the foundation will fund the Science Ambassadors program, which forms the centerpiece of Queens 20/20.

The program will enable NYSCI to make educational resources, exhibits and programs available to students and families in the school district throughout the academic year. Over the next five years, working in partnership with a network of schools in the community, NYSCI will offer programs — based on its signature Design-Make-Play approach to STEM learning — that support out-of-school STEM opportunities and parental engagement. NYSCI will also provide career resources and conduct evaluation and research. The museum’s goal is to serve as a neighborhood hub, offering a much-needed resource for children and their families, teachers, and other members of the community. NYSCI hopes that Queens 20/20 will serve as a model for other organizations and communities serving immigrant families across the country.

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New York Theater Ballet

New York City-based theater ballet company integrating dance with quantitative STEM disciplines.

Founded in 1978, the New York Theater Ballet (NYTB) has been rooted in the belief that dance is a vessel for intellectual enrichment across all disciplines. The NYTB School has been integrating elements of science and math into its year-round curriculum for over a decade. “Dancing with STEAM” is NYTB’s educational program aimed at addressing the emerging need for artistic integration into STEM spaces.

Hosted by NYTB and developed in collaboration with various science, math and engineering partner organizations, Dancing with STEAM brings cohesion to a series of existing and new science programs tailored for students ages 8 to 15. NYTB integrates classical ballet technique and choreographic concepts with quantitative STEM disciplines into the NYTB School curriculum. This program places young learners at the intersection of performing arts and science, rendering both subjects more approachable and accessible beyond the classroom. “Dancing with STEAM” represents the culmination of beta testing between NYTB and its STEM collaborators, aimed at creating accessible science-based movement curricula. This holistic sciences program was developed in response to the evolving educational landscape in public schools, moving away from formalized arts education and towards STEM. NYTB plans to introduce a new partnership annually, with additional program offerings exclusive to off-site communities, thus expanding NYTB’s organizational footprint and the accessibility of ballet beyond the students in the NYTB School.

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Education design company creating high-quality summer learning and out-of-school time opportunities for highly motivated yet historically excluded BIPOC students.

Founded by high school English teacher Chidi Asoluka in 2021, the New Community Project's mission is to create dynamic and affirming learning environments that empower BIPOC students to be the chief architects of their future. The New Community Project will launch its first program: NewComm Fellows, a month-long paid academic internship program where rising Bronx high school juniors will leverage a scientific study of a literary novel to design a $10,000 project for their local community. Through two modules, Literary Performance and Literary Science, students actively investigate the novel's themes and questions both in the classroom and in their neighborhood. To support their study, students engage with local leaders, scientists, artists, non-profit leaders and company founders to better understand how these seasoned practitioners strategically and systematically confront and address the novel’s thematic questions in their work. As a capstone project, students will conduct their own qualitative and quantitative community research in order to design a project that promotes collective flourishing and empowerment for Bronx residents.

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Award-winning science radio program that employs high-quality storytelling and sound to engage audiences.

Radiolab is a two-time Peabody Award-winning national public radio program that celebrates curiosity and nurtures engagement with science in millions of listeners nationwide and around the world. Co-hosted by executive producer and MacArthur ‘genius’ Jad Abumrad and veteran science journalist Robert Krulwich, Radiolab approaches broad and diverse topics across science from the ground up.

Radiolab’s non-didactic treatment of science — in which the hosts exhibit curiosity and wonder and ask questions — makes challenging science concepts accessible and encourages a feeling of emotional investment and a sense of discovery within its listeners. By positioning science as a living process — one that requires a range of approaches, an ability to grapple with unknowns, and a willingness to experiment — Radiolab’s hosts draw listeners into stimulating, powerful conversations about science, scientific inquiry, and the scientific process. The program makes scientists out of laypeople as they venture into Radiolab-guided explorations that emphasize a feeling of personal connection through a highly crafted use of sound and story.

To foster public engagement with science and scientific inquiry, Radiolab produces and distributes a selection of science programming to national and international audiences via multiple platforms including original digital podcasts, a weekly hourlong radio broadcast, science communication lectures and live events, and the cultivation and promotion of new Radiolab talent. After over a decade of production, Radiolab is broadcast on 596 public radio stations across the country and averages 3.4 million monthly podcast listeners.

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Sai Resident Collective

Incubator enabling and accelerating the building of new tools and programs that expand pathways of access and engagement between people and science around the world. 

The Sai Resident Collective is an incubator that is making it easier for social entrepreneurs to launch and run the next generation of STEM engagement initiatives and tools around the world. SAi hosts summer internships, fellowships and residency programs that provide access to funding, community, workshops, research, exposure and so much more. SAi envisions a future where STEM engagement is lifelong, inclusive, diverse and accessible. SAi’s core belief is that access to lifelong STEM engagement is a necessary catalyst for social advancement and ultimately, global peace.

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Science Friday

An award-winning public radio show devoted to increasing the public’s access to science and scientific information.

Founded by Ira Flatow in 1991, Science Friday built its reputation as a public radio talk show focused on science news and connecting the public with science innovation through interviews with scientists and other experts. Since its founding, Science Friday has expanded its offerings into the ever-changing digital media space and into several realms of education and out-of-school learning and experiences. Science Friday’s mission is to increase public access to science and scientific information — and it strives to deliver enjoyable, inclusive, understandable science to people and communities across the country.

Science Friday is embarking on an ambitious, transformative research and development phase, which will build new public media audiences and increase access to the sciences through its flagship broadcast, innovative engagement programming and educational initiatives dedicated to bringing hands-on science experiences to learners around the country. Through Science Friday’s work, it seeks to progress towards its founder’s vision of making science a topic of conversation around the dinner table, uplift the voices and stories of communities left out of STEM and contribute to a more science-literate and science-trusting American public.

SEM Link
Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link Inc. — STEM Journal Club

National nonprofit organization established on the premise that exposure to the STEM community is critical to K-12 students pursuing STEM careers.

Founded in 2005 by Tokiwa T. Smith in Atlanta, SEM Link has as its mission to strengthen the self-efficacy of K-12 students to pursue STEM careers by exposing them to positive adult role models from the STEM community that increase students’ awareness of STEM careers and encourage their participation in STEM Research through digital learning and hands-on activities. SEM Link has a two-core program model, Experimental Design Program, and Math and Science Career Academy, in which more than 500 STEM professionals have exposed over 15,000 youth to over 50 different STEM career paths, and also supported hundreds of young STEM research trainees.

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Journal Club, a program of SEM Link’s Experimental Design Program, aims to develop STEM literacy skills in metro Atlanta high school students from ethnic and racial communities with historically low participation in high-level STEM research competitions. Participants engage in scholarly research; read and analyze STEM literature; and gain exposure to relevant concepts to spark their interest in STEM Research. The journal club curriculum is a “hybrid” journal club model focused on teaching students how to critically, read, dissect, analyze, evaluate and discuss research articles while incorporating social media and small group discussions. The journal club also trains students on communicating STEM topics to diverse audiences with the creation of a podcast episode based on a STEM journal article as the students’ final project for the journal club.

Exhibition hallway of cultural center Pioneer Works
Sciences at Pioneer Works

A massive cultural center dedicated to experimentation, education and production across disciplines, housed in a converted warehouse in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Pioneer Works is a center for art, experiment, research, education and science. Located in a 25,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn, the facility houses artist studios, exhibition and performance spaces, a science lab, a recording studio, and more. The floor plan is open and flexible, encouraging a collaborative environment in which international artists, musicians, scientists and educators can create together.

Pioneer Works encourages its artists and scientists to focus on their own disciplines and not feel pressured to cross over into others, although collaborations often erupt spontaneously. What the organization offers to all of its inhabitants is the opportunity to live in a bigger world and play the most important part they can play on that larger stage.

With support from the Simons Foundation, Pioneer Works is rebuilding its science studios. It is also continuing its popular live science events, which are free and open to the public, and producing podcasts to disseminate its programs to a wider audience. In the later phases of its expansion, Pioneer Works will offer specially tailored scientific residencies and workshops and an incubator space. Pioneer Works hopes to become a model for the natural integration of science into a cultural organization.

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On-deadline service connecting reporters to expert sources and research-backed evidence for use in their stories.

Based at the nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science and staffed by a team of former journalists and scientists, SciLine is a free service for journalists and scientists with one mission: to help journalists include more high-quality scientific evidence in their news stories. SciLine quickly connects reporters to deeply knowledgeable scientists with solid communication skills and provides rigorously vetted, research-backed text and video resources to enrich their reporting. The organization operates on journalists’ deadline-driven schedules and places special emphasis on the needs of local reporters.

Separately, the organization regularly tees up scientists with expertise in newsworthy topics and schedules availability for one-on-one, broadcast quality interviews. SciLine also conducts its own video interviews with experts when science-related news breaks, then distributes video and transcripts for free download by journalists. In addition, the organization hosts media briefings in which scientists make short presentations on topics in the news and then take live questions on the record.

With Science Sandbox support, SciLine is translating many of its reporting resources into Spanish for use by U.S.-based, Spanish-language media.

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Seattle Universal Math Museum

Math museum providing math enrichment activities for students that parents can replicate at home.

Seattle Universal Math Museum’s (SUMM) mission is to spark each and every person to love math. The Museum was founded in 2019 to foster positive connections to math, boost math confidence and help students see math as relevant to their future. SUMM collaborates with parents, teachers, school district leaders and nonprofit partners to create in-school and after-school enrichment programs, focusing on third through eighth grade students and their educators throughout King County with a special emphasis on providing no or low-cost programming in Title 1 schools in South King County. Math comes to life through hands-on experiences inside classrooms, libraries and community centers.

SUMM aims to fill a critical need by augmenting traditional learning settings that highlight the creativity in math, its connections to other disciplines and its applications beyond the classroom. Many BIPOC students, girls, neurodiverse and non-traditional learners too often become discouraged and lose confidence in their abilities in third through eighth grade — a critical age when math becomes more challenging for students, when attitudes about math form, and ideas for future careers take shape. Once confidence is boosted and students see math as relevant to their futures, academic performance improves and children thrive.

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Sing for Science

Science and music podcast where musicians talk to scientists about how their science connects to their most famous songs.

Created and hosted by New York musician Matt Whyte, Sing for Science’s goal is to increase science literacy for as many people as possible by reaching a variety of musicians’ fan bases. Past guests include SIA, Mac Demarco, Norah Jones, Renée Fleming, Run DMC, Blondie and many more. Listeners come to the show through their love of music and leave with a new piece of knowledge about science and the scientific process. Science literacy and respect for expertise are perhaps more vital now than ever before. The show’s chief tenet is that a more scientifically literate society can only contribute towards greater support for fairer, evidence-based governmental policy.

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Society for Science: STEM Action Grants

This grant program supports community-driven organizations working to enhance the public’s understanding of science and to increase participation of underrepresented populations in STEM.

The Society for Science works to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and its vital role in human advancement. In 2015, the Society launched a suite of outreach and equity programs aimed at expanding access to authentic and high-quality STEM education and experiences for students from underserved or historically underrepresented communities. These programs reach millions of students, educators and community members in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

One such program, called STEM Action Grants, is helping to grow the next generation of STEM social entrepreneurs. STEM Action Grants strengthen and support innovative, community-driven nonprofit organizations working to enhance the public’s understanding of science and to increase participation of groups underrepresented in STEM fields. The groundbreaking nonprofits supported by STEM Action Grants nurture potential in underserved communities but are often left out of traditional philanthropic giving. As a result, small amounts of funding and other support can have a disproportionately large impact on their essential work. In addition, grantees gain credibility that they can leverage into future funding success. The Society supports the essential work of these community-based STEM organizations by providing catalytic funds via microgrants of up to $5,000 each in addition to media exposure.

In partnership with the Simons Foundation, the Society is expanding its grantmaking capacity to launch grantee cohort-building activities to foster collaboration and build knowledge exchange for the STEM organizations supported by the program.

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Innovative after-school program in New York City for high school students interested in exploring the profound connection between music and STEM.

Sound+Science offers a challenging and supportive environment that pairs high school students with local graduate and doctoral mentors. Together, they develop practical applications that are relevant to musicians, producers and coders, facilitating knowledge exchange and mutual growth.

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STEM From Dance

Two- week programs, for girls to create a collection of technology-infused dances, to inspire them to consider joining the STEM workforce.

STEM From Dance (SFD) envisions a world in which Black and Latina women are represented equitably in the STEM workforce. To this end, SFD empowers underrepresented minority girls to prepare for a STEM education that excites them — through the creative and confidence-building aspects of dance.

Black and Latina women comprise 15% of the American population but occupy only 4% of the STEM workforce. The STEM workforce features some of our country’s most high-impact and lucrative jobs, but women of color are deterred from entering STEM fields due to lack of confidence, readiness, and awareness. SFD breaks down each of these barriers using dance as a “hook” and an environment where girls of color can grow their STEM skill set and sense of possibility that STEM can be an option for their futures. Over the past six years, SFD has impacted the STEM awareness, ability and confidence of over 400 participants across a variety of school and community sites.

In partnership with Science Sandbox, SFD piloted a summer program in July 2018 to reach girls from schools across NYC in our target population, creating an opportunity to serve more students and further the mission of preparing girls for a future in STEM. Over two weeks, girls create a collection of technology-infused dances that awe and inspire, while learning about computer science, electrical engineering, choreography and how they all work together.

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STEM Greenhouse

Organization exposing underrepresented students in West Michigan to STEM through interactive, hands-on learning experiences.

STEM Greenhouse stands at the forefront of educational equity, offering a robust suite of programs tailored to dismantle barriers in science, technology, engineering and math education for underrepresented students. Founded by Keli Christopher, the third Black woman globally to earn a Ph.D. in agricultural engineering, the organization is her testament to the power of representation and dedication to these critical fields. Located in West Michigan, STEM Greenhouse is celebrated for its hands-on, interactive learning approach, which transforms difficult-to-grasp concepts into tangible, engaging experiences. With each program tailored to mitigate key educational gaps for students from third to 12th grade, the organization holistically enriches students' academic journeys through mentorship, leadership training, accelerated learning opportunities, after-school tutoring, college visits and more, supporting their families, educators and the STEM community at large. This approach to supporting both students and their wider support networks is significant, leading to a community-wide uplift in education, career readiness and the overall expansion of the STEM talent pipeline.

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STEM to the Future

Organization that inspires Black and Latine students ages 4 to 13 to solve injustice and create the worlds they want and deserve.

STEM to the Future (STTF) is altering the way the world addresses the STEM pipeline gap for Black and Latine students through a scalable social justice and STEAM-based curriculum. STTF positions STEAM as an integrated, hands-on learning experience that leverages competencies from science, technology, engineering and math alongside the arts to solve complex real-world problems.

STTF’s Theory+Practice (TxP) programs are student-led, after-school initiatives in which youth combine justice, STEAM and activism as they work together to reimagine and create the communities they want and deserve. They are guided through the process of: 1) creating a clear vision for the world they want and deserve; 2) using STEAM to develop projects that support their vision; and 3) connecting with the community and grassroots organizations to build and implement their projects. TxP consists of three programs: Build Em Up Robotics, The Bloom Initiative and Brick by Brick. STTF partners with STEAM Residents, who are creatives, professionals and activists with a passion for STEAM, to provide their students with content experts to support them as they address unmet needs in their communities. Students have used robotics to deliver PPE to elders, used community research to design cookbooks with healthy recipes for kids, and created their own brand to raise awareness and funds for the LGBTQ+ and unhoused communities.

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Organization promoting access for underrepresented students to the skills and information needed to address scientific and technological concerns of their neighborhoods and our changing world.

STEMcx is the education arm of the faith-based organization Transforming Lives Community Development Corporation (TLCDC). Partnered with New Psalmist Baptist Church (NPBC), STEMcx is dedicated to inspiring underrepresented minority (URM) students to embrace STEM. STEMcx believes that the STEMcx/NPBC partnership provides a unique and innovative opportunity to discuss science and technology with congregants of the largest minority faith communities in Baltimore. Community engagement and advocacy is an essential component of their programming, and the program believes this integration of advocacy acts as an incentive for its students, driving their desire to acquire science knowledge.

STEMcx programming began over eight years ago with a free one-day conference exposing more than 250 Baltimore-area students to science and technology through workshops and guest speakers. The program has since grown over the years into a multifaceted community organization exposing thousands of students in grades K-12 to STEM via field trips, conferences, expos and special events. STEMcx offers free tutoring programs in math and science, low-cost summer camps and book clubs, and Saturday school year classes and workshops. Their summer high school program offers paid experiential learning opportunities in coding and cybersecurity, engineering, environmental justice, architecture, health care inequities, and space exploration. These summer experiences inspire the URM student community to connect with STEM disciplines and to see the connection of STEM with their communities.

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Techbridge Girls

Tackling the issue of inclusivity in STEM by providing best-in-class, hands-on programming to girls from low-income communities.

Techbridge Girls excites, educates and equips girls from low-income communities to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers and to attain economic mobility and better life chances. Today, many girls are locked out of STEM and have to work twice as hard to get half as far. Overwhelming odds are stacked against them: They live in low-income communities, go to high-poverty schools and experience bias due to their race, class and ethnicity. Techbridge Girls aims to level the playing field and empower girls from low-income communities to achieve upward mobility and financial stability.

The ChangeMakersTM program uses research-based practices and rigorous evaluation to create a year-long program with an engaging curriculum to introduce middle-school girls to a wide array of STEM skills and concepts via "hands-on, minds-on" activities. Girls then use their STEM skills to create original Community Impact Projects. Community-centered Showcase events are held at the end of each program year to celebrate girls’ Community Impact Projects with families, teachers and supporters. Examples of past projects include an app that addresses Islamophobia with profiles of Muslim people in the local community as well as highlighting the similarities between Islam and other religions, and a backpack with sensors and LED lights to increase safety for girls who walk home. ChangeMakers also integrates role-model visits from STEM professionals and field trips to STEM employers and the girls' families.

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The Calculus Project

Math organization that helps schools and school districts create a middle and high school pathway for success in advanced mathematics.

The Calculus Project (TCP) helps schools and school districts use research supported strategies to increase the representation of Black, Latine and low-income students in advanced math. TCP provides district support and ongoing professional learning for teachers and administrators in a school or district to build and implement a TCP program for their students.

Students participate in five components of TCP, starting in seventh grade and continuing through high school graduation. 1) Summer Program:Students (rising eighth through 12th graders) are pre-taught some of the upcoming year’s math, which provides an opportunity to get ahead and build confidence and teaches them how to develop high capacity, collaborative study groups. 2) Cohorts: Students are grouped into designated sections to drive continued collaboration and a sense of belonging, which allows students to support each other and continue to hone the collaborative study skills learned during the summer. 3) Academic Center:Tutoring support is available through the school year from math teachers and TCP Peer Teachers (see below), which continually supports students and builds teacher to student and student to student relationships. 4) Peer Teaching: Junior and senior TCP scholars can become paid Peer Teachers for the Summer Academy and Academic Center. This component builds off the research showing the benefits of peer tutoring in driving persistence and achievement — for both the student tutor and the student being tutored. 5) Pride Curriculum: Students learn about the accomplishments of STEM professionals of color during Summer Academy, and they explore personal efficacy through lessons which focus on belonging, agency and resilience.

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The Open Notebook

Tools and resources to help science, environmental, and health journalists at all levels of experience to sharpen their skills.

The Open Notebook provides in-depth articles and other tools to help science journalists improve their skills. They support and encourage high-quality science journalism that has the power to engage wide audiences.

The Diverse Voices program comprises a series of feature-length articles that examine the experiences and perspectives of minority science journalists, who are significantly underrepresented in the science journalism community. Lack of diversity in science journalism is a problem not only for science journalism as a profession but also for readers — and thus for public understanding of science. The people who tell science stories influence whose stories get told (or left untold) and, therefore, how accurately the reading public perceives the scientific enterprise and the opportunities within science for people from diverse communities. What’s more, a science media landscape that is not diverse is missing opportunities for engaging communities of readers who may be interested in science and its role in society.

Diverse Voices, a partnership with the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) Diversity Committee, will bring greater visibility to journalists from underrepresented groups and to scientific and journalistic issues of special relevance to minority communities.

The Diverse Voices program is an extension of The Open Notebook’s broader mission to strengthen science journalism by helping science writers sharpen their craft.

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Whiteswan Environmental

Native-led non-profit educating and strengthening relationships between bio-regional native and non-native government and NGO’s, as well as academic institutions to reconnect Coast Salish youth and community with their culture and ancestral homelands.

Whiteswan Environmental is a Native-led non-profit located on the federally reserved lands of Lummi Nation that is launching Immersive Indigenous Learning through Planetarium Experiences. Students from Whatcom Intergenerational High School (WIHS) and Northwest Indian College (NWIC) will be recruited for an after-school program where they will develop digital storytelling skills in efforts to help preserve tribal history, culture, governance, and language within the Salish Sea, presenting short educational films at community events within a portable planetarium theater system. Whiteswan Environmental co-founded WIHS with the intention to transform the educational system by honoring a balance between Indigenous and Western ways of knowing, supporting knowledge democracy for all. Anticipated new films will highlight Coast Salish connection to cosmology, village sites, camps, reef net fishing locations, journey of the salmon people, and 13 moon food sovereignty. Students from diverse backgrounds will have the opportunity to work intergenerationally with their families to learn culturally safe ways to share stories based on Indigenous values of knowing who we are and where we come from. This project builds off existing planetarium films, including Big Astronomy, a film focused on astronomy facilities in Chile and the diverse STEM careers that make big astronomy possible and Navajo Skies, led by the Indigenous Education Institute (IEI), telling star stories of the Navajo people. Whiteswan Environmental aims to preserve the wisdom of elders while empowering the next generation with new tools and skills to connect with their community, culture, and ancestral homelands.

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Willie Mae Rock Camp

Free music laboratory for girls and gender-expansive youth in NYC that empowers them through transdisciplinary music education

Willie Mae Rock Camp (WMRC) empowers girls and gender-expansive youth through transdisciplinary music education programs that combine instrument instruction with STEM-based learning. Through the language of music, WMRC’s students gain confidence in using new technologies to express themselves and build essential skills for future success.

WMRC reaches over 600 students ages 10 to 17 annually at its Brooklyn studio and partner sites throughout New York City through a range of year-round programming, including in-school music education, community workshops and afterschool and summer intensives. Across WMRC’s programs, students learn how to create a musical track; receive hands-on instruction and practice using a range of tech including electronic instruments, software and applications, and creative coding; build interactive electronics; and work together to develop their own collaborative works. WMRC programs are tuition-free and serve young people whose voices are underrepresented in both creative and tech fields.

YR Media

Award-winning media, technology and music training center and platform for emerging BIPOC content creators who use their voices to change the world.

YR Media is a national organization with diverse content creators between the ages of 14 and 24 who create multimedia content for this generation. YR works with 300+ youth correspondents from historically underrepresented communities all across the country, covering essential issues from the perspectives of young people.

This Science is for Everyone, a new YR Media initiative, will focus on engaging new audiences as YR emphasizes science through sound design and audio production. YR’s journalistic endeavors will also focus on climate change, STEM content and current events in science and technology.

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