Motorola Supports Student Achievement in STEM

The Motorola Foundation recently announced the recipients of its Innovation Generation grants, which provided $4 million in 2008 to more than 80 K-12 education programs across the country. The program supports sustainable solutions that strengthen the U.S. position in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by cultivating a workforce of critical thinkers.

“We’ve reached a threshold in our global competitiveness in math and science where the need to spark and sustain students’ interest in these critical skills is paramount,” says Eileen Sweeney, director of the Motorola Foundation. “Building a diverse pipeline of critical thinkers, skilled scientists, and engineers is a by-product of our efforts that not only will benefit Motorola and our industry, but also will support a sustainable workforce and bolster the country’s competitive advantage in the global knowledge-based economy.”

Motorola has provided more than $20 million in funding since 2005 to enable students to invent and learn as part of hands-on, interactive after-school programs, science and math clubs, camps, and mentoring programs. The Foundation’s focus on STEM education in the United States directly addresses obstacles to achievement by engaging students—particularly girls and under represented minorities—in the practical applications of the concepts engineers and technologists employ every day at Motorola.

The latest research shows that jobs requiring science, engineering, or technical training will increase 24% between 2004 and 2014 to 6.3 million. The disparity between the growing demand for critical thinkers and the country’s ability to adequately prepare students to fill these jobs has been widening for decades. The most recent global survey of 15-year-olds’ performance in science shows 24% of U.S. students surveyed at the lowest level of performance-below the level at which students begin to demonstrate the ability to successfully participate in the workforce. The lack of skilled graduates in these fields poses a significant threat to sustained U.S. competitiveness in the global knowledge-intensive economy.

Furthermore, diversity in these fields is lagging. This May, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering announced the results of a study funded by the Motorola Foundation that found African Americans, Latinos, and American Indians continue to be underrepresented in STEM disciplines.

“Diverse viewpoints don’t just affect the way companies design and develop products. They are a competitive advantage for U.S. businesses,” states Sweeney. “We want to do everything possible to make technology accessible and relevant for all kids—regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic background-so that they develop a passion for problem solving.”

Of 2008 Innovation Generation grantees, 43% target African-American students, 23% serve Hispanics, and 35% engage girls specifically.

“Support from the Motorola Foundation is enabling us to not only get minority middle and high school youth, particularly girls, interested in science, but to keep them interested via personalized experiences with scientists. Furthermore, we know that interest in science among 8th graders is a better indicator than test scores for predicting future career choices,” says Gabrielle Lyon, Cofounder and Executive Director of Project Exploration. “We look forward to partnering with Motorola and the Innovation Generation network of STEM champions toward our common mission of supporting opportunities, achievement, and inspiration in STEM subjects.”

To see a full list of grantee recipients or to learn more about Motorola’s Innovation Generation grant program, visit