Following the overwhelming success of the sci-fi superhero movie Black Panther, Disney announced that it would be giving a $1 million grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in order to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.
Why STEM programs?
Black Panther, which is quickly becoming one of the highest-grossing films of all time, takes place in a futuristic African nation called Wakanda that is sheltered from the rest of the modern world.
The high-tech skills flexed throughout the film has been inspiring children of all ages. This is why the Walt Disney Company, which owns Marvel Studios, chose to show its appreciation by promoting the advancement of STEM education for youth, and in so doing, sparking interest in math and science.
Just as the film is breaking ground by bringing the first black superhero in the Marvel universe, a field that is dominated by white characters in superhero movies, the STEM programs are targeted at the underserved areas of the country, so they can develop the skills to shape their own future.
Underrepresentation in STEM
Following a study by the Pew Research Center based on US Census Bureau from earlier this year, it was revealed that Hispanics and Blacks were underrepresented in all STEM professions, except for healthcare and technical fields.
Considering that people with full-time positions in STEM jobs earn about 26% more than non-STEM workers with the same academic qualifications, this underrepresentation is causing a huge wager gap. The Pew Research Center also reports that employment in STEM jobs has risen by about 80% since 1990, which is faster than the overall job growth rate in the US.
As the demand for skilled graduates in STEM fields increases, boosting the interest for young people in related professions is essential.
Centres in 12 Cities
Boys & Girls Clubs of America plans to use part of the Disney donation to build “STEM Centers of Innovation” in cities across the US. These include:
- Washington, DC
- Harlem, New York
- Orlando, Florida
- Oakland, California
- Watts, California
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Chicago, Illinois
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Baltimore, Maryland
- New Orleans, Louisiana
It will also direct some of the funds towards expanding on its STEM curriculum. For instance, they plan on sparking creativity through the use of practical, advanced technologies such as robotics, 3D printing, and HD video production. They will also provide mentorship by hiring STEM experts as instructors.
Thanks to the massive success of Black Panther, which has already generated over $1 billion, and the support of Disney, more kids will be able to pursue their passion and build a rewarding career in STEM.
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