The Education Foundation Receives AT&T Full STEAM Ahead for Florida's Future Grant to Fund Learning Innovation

The Giving Coast

High school and middle school students from across Sarasota County Schools benefited from a statewide investment by AT&T this year, one that seeks to engage students who may have fallen behind during the pandemic as well as those in underserved communities, families needing support with distance learning, and high school students seeking to jump start their STEM careers through industry certifications.  For the 12th consecutive year, AT&T is working with the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (Consortium) to support hands-on learning opportunities. Nineteen separate projects organized and funded through Consortium member local education foundations will re-engage students who have gotten behind in academics and/or are in underserved communities through hands-on STEAM enrichment activities, student-led digital divide support or increasing CTE certification completion.  

With the Full STEAM Ahead for Florida’s Future grant, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County will provide innovative, hands-on learning opportunities while raising awareness of STEAM-related fields. In a project titled Building STEAM through the Career Skills Challenge, it will help make possible two Career Skills Challenges. Students and teams of students from area high schools and middle schools will compete in 12 career skills challenges in areas such as video production, VEX Robotics, CAD design, and coding. These hands-on, enrichment activities will be held at Suncoast Technical College. The first skills challenge, for high school students, was held on December 9, 2021, and was a tremendous success, with 175 students from all seven high schools participating. Venice High School won the all-around school championship for the Career Skills Challenge. Middle school students competed on March 31, 2022, at Suncoast Technical College-North Port, with 120 students from area middle schools participating. Laurel Nokomis School won the all-around school championship for the Career Skills Challenge. The Career Skills Challenge increases career awareness, exploration, and concentration throughout the Sarasota County school district. It celebrates students interested in STEAM-related fields and affords them an opportunity to network with peers and meet the judges, adult experts in the career fields these students are interested in. This year’s statewide grant brings the total investment by AT&T over eleven years to more than $1 million. More than 79,000 students have been directly impacted through 469 projects involving 954 local workplace partners throughout Florida.  

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