Boeing Gives $6 Million for STEM Education in Washington

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

Boeing has announced that it will be giving $6 million in grants to dozens of educational institutes and non-profit organizations. The grants are designed to help develop Boeing's future workforce.

The majority of the grants, about $5 million, are going to over 50 educational institutions across Washington state. The other $1 million is specifically going to Washington State University, Seattle University, and the University of Washington.

The company is pushing STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — education to improve its future workforce's ability to increase their chance of landing jobs in those fields, and specifically with Boeing. Included in the groups receiving grants will be Washington STEM and the K-12 initiative it is associated with.

"Boeing's been a longstanding member of the Washington community. We also know that we'll be a significant job provider in the state for decades to come. When you look at our demographics, we know we're going to have a large portion of our workforce eligible to retire in the coming years," Said Bill McSherry, vice president of government relations and global corporate citizenship for Boeing.

Boeing expects a large portion of the company's workforce in Washington will retire within the next several years. These grants will help the company prepare students with the skills and knowledge necessary to fill the openings that will soon be available.

Boeing has provided support to education through much of its history. The company, which has a long tradition of supporting education in Washington, noted that one of the first donations they made was a wind tunnel to the University of Washington in 1917. These new grants are a continuation of a tradition and commitment to education and provide an opportunity to current and future students.

Ray Connor, Boeing president and CEO, said, "Boeing will be a significant jobs provider in Washington for decades to come. Our hope and goal is that those future jobs will continue to be filled by kids who grow up right here in the state. We are working hard today to give Washington students opportunities for employment within aerospace, manufacturing, and other STEM-related fields when they graduate. Despite the always dynamic aerospace industry, Boeing remains consistent in its investment in our future here in Washington."

Alan Boyle writes for GeekWire that Boeing and Microsoft made a joint pledge of $50 million to the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship Program. These grants and donations are especially helpful in regard to students who are historically underserved. Seattle University, for example, aims at using its portion of the grant money to support the retention of minorities and women in its undergraduate programs and specifically in computer science and engineering courses.

In addition to Washington STEM, a large portion of the grants are going to Thrive Washington and SkillUp Washington. SkillUp is working with manufacturing pathways partnering with community and technical colleges, something Boeing is very invested in. Thrive Washington is receiving its portion of the grants due to its focus on early learning areas.

Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean of undergraduate academic affairs at the University of Washington, said: "This funding will enable UW programs like the Dream Project, Alternative Spring Break and others to dig deeper into their work of connecting UW undergraduates to leadership and mentorship opportunities."

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