Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is pleased to announce that Mote’s C-STEM Program has received an award of $10,000 from The Weichel Family Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation. The grant will be used in the 2022-2023 program year to fund the delivery of monthly educational programming in Manatee County throughout the academic year and supplemental programming during the summer for around 1,300 Manatee County students.

Since 2014, Mote’s C-STEM Program has worked collaboratively with local community-serving organizations to bring science to life for the individuals they serve. Mote educators work to make the program fully accessible to participating organizations by offering programming free of charge and conducting programming on-site, eliminating transportation costs and economic barriers for partners that may otherwise lack access to meaningful STEM experiences. Partner organizations also receive Educator Guides so they can continue building on new knowledge and facilitate extension activities.

The C-STEM Program has been providing hands-on STEM educational experiences to a diverse population of students at a developmentally critical time in their education. Working in partnership with alternative schools and afterschool programs throughout the Sarasota and Manatee counties, the program helps to fill gaps in local educational programming by leveraging Mote science and educators to engage participants in highly interactive learning experiences.

Each monthly session consists of a 45-minute program geared toward raising environmental awareness, inspiring interest in STEM, imparting new skills, and preparing older students for college or a career. Each session includes specialized instruction with students engaging directly with Mote educators and other hands-on activities. Topics vary from the impacts of ocean acidification to shark conservation and sustainable fisheries. With six active partner organizations in Manatee County, Mote educators travel to each location. “We are so grateful for Mote’s dedication to ensure that disadvantaged girls have equal access to programs that educate, motivate and inspire them,” said Lena Neal, Academic Manager at Pace Center for Girls, Manatee.

Mote, a leader in marine STEM education for K-12 audiences, is committed to providing grade-level STEM education experiences that help to prepare underrepresented and underserved students who may not have previously seen themselves in science. By the year 2030, Mote aims to increase the percentage of historically underrepresented and underserved populations participating in Mote educational programming to half of all participants. Further, Mote is committed to designing and delivering programs specifically for these populations to meet their individual needs.

“While working with these students, it’s incredible to watch them grow through our in-person outreaches, and it’s even more special when they are able to visit Mote Aquarium to participate in activities to which they would otherwise not have access,” said Alison Goldy, Community Engagement Coordinator. “Their enthusiasm and curiosity are inspiring and contagious, and I am so grateful that I am able to provide these opportunities for them through Mote Education.”