Energizing STEM in the Classroom

“I never expected my students to beg and plead for the opportunity to learn,” wrote Mrs. McGinnis, a teacher at Cincinnati’s North Elementary School, where more than three-quarters of the students are from low-income households. “However, that is exactly what happens each morning when my students come to class. They ask, ‘Can I work with robots this morning?’”

Fortunately, this experience is not an isolated one. It all began in late 2016 when Duke Energy issued a challenge: Donate toward a classroom learning project in Greater Cincinnati, and the Duke Energy Foundation will match it dollar-for-dollar. The Classroom Crowdfunding Challenge—a partnership between the Duke Energy Foundation and DonorsChoose.org—was initiated to help local public school teachers bring engaging science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects into their classrooms. For McGinnis, the project funded Dash and Dot robots for her students to learn the basics of designing a path and coding.

Nearly 18 months after launching the challenge, the Duke Energy Foundation matched $200,000 in private donations (for a total of $400,000) to fund educational programs that not only foster a growing interest in STEM fields, but also help communities thrive and produce skilled workers with new innovative ideas. Duke Energy’s Classroom Crowdfunding Challenge funded more than 771 projects in support of 395 STEM teachers at 170 schools in southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky. In total, more than 55,000 students benefitted from the program. 

Here’s how it worked:

  • Public school teachers submitted STEM project proposals (up to $2,000 per project) on DonorsChoose.org.
  • Individuals interested in supporting STEM programs visited DonorsChoose.org, browsed eligible projects and made donations.
  • Duke Energy’s $200,000 commitment, along with crowdsourced funds, contributed $400,000 worth of STEM education projects to public schools in Greater Cincinnati.
  • Once a project was fully funded, DonorsChoose.org purchased the project materials and shipped them directly to the teacher’s school. 

“We’re deeply grateful for Duke Energy’s support of Ohio and Kentucky STEM projects,” said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org.

“So many local teachers now have tools they need to teach and inspire our next generation of scientists and engineers.”

Read more about the programs that were funded at donorschoose.org/donors.