Fort Wayne, IN – Indiana Michigan Power on Wednesday awarded a $150,000 donation on behalf of the American Electric Power Foundation to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana (BBBSNEI) for their first ever science lab.
The donation will go toward technology, materials and supplies for the AEP Foundation Science Lab, where Big Brothers Big Sisters will offer enhanced Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs to at-risk youth of northeast Indiana and their volunteer mentors.
Toby Thomas, President and Chief Operating Officer of Indiana Michigan Power (I&M), presented the $150,000 donation to Josette Rider, Chief Executive Officer, and the BBBSNEI Board of Directors in honor of their Give Big. Save a Little. Campaign.
“The AEP Foundation and I&M believe in building strong communities, improving lives through education and playing an active role to enhance the communities we serve,” Thomas said. “Big Brothers Big Sisters will help make sure that more youth are exposed to STEM education at a younger age. This exposure improves their abilities to continue STEM education through high school and post-secondary programs, training them for careers in the promising and expanding fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.”
This is the first ever Science Lab and STEM initiative for BBBSNEI. Funding will provide for an onsite lab, constructed and outfitted with the essential equipment, systems, technology and hardware to host workshops with their Big & Little matches. Giving youth with the greatest need and least opportunity the ability to foster an interest in Science, provide hands-on experiments and demonstrations. It will also address help with the local issues of developing and retaining qualified talent within the region.
“We want to provide exposure to Science and STEM in a fun and unique way. STEM is something not often offered to our Littles. More than 33% of our Littles are ages 13-22 – a great age to introduce STEM. All of the children we provide services to are full of potential and when placed in a one-to-one learning environment with their Big, they display a unique desire and ability to learn,” said Josette Rider. “There is a strong need to help kids explore career options, and with the help of Indiana Michigan Power and the AEP Foundation, this initiative will not only provide a head start on educating but also ignite an interest in these fields, uncovering untapped talent within a demographic of children not significantly and purposefully exposed to STEM.”