LANSING (WWJ) — The Dart Foundation recently reaffirmed its long-term partnership with Lansing’s Information Technology Empowerment Center with a $15,000 contribution to support ITEC programs for at-risk youth.

The grant continues the partners’ efforts to inspire Lansing students through the Pathways project, a series of after-school classes and summer camps that focus on building skills in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math.

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The Pathways classes are designed to increase student interest and proficiency in STEM subjects through innovative, IT-based tools. Local educators and IT professionals teach subjects like Lego robotics, video game design, and digital media.

These high-interest subjects capture student imaginations, resulting in improved student attitudes toward science and math learning, along with new skills in STEM and IT. ITEC classes also encourage the development of “21st Century Learning Skills” such as problem solving, teamwork, communication and creativity. The project focuses on youth in their late elementary and middle school years, a time when many students lose interest in STEM subjects.

“We take pride in partnering with communities and organizations that have a specific, positive vision for our youth and their future,” explained Claudia Deschaine, Dart Foundation Manager. “We may not be the ones teaching the courses, but we know that supporting ITEC allows us to help kids build interest in STEM and connect with great mentors.”

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“We are excited to be partnering with the Dart Foundation on our summer camps, and in furthering our joint mission to build STEM skills in area youth,” noted Kirk Riley, ITEC’s Executive Director. “They understand bridging the STEM gap is how we continue to produce brilliant scientists, engineers, and health professionals.”

This grant is the second of three yearly installments, and will provide ITEC services to approximately 150 students from June 2013 to May 2014.

The Dart Foundation is a private family foundation established in 1984 by William A. and Claire T. Dart in Mason. Each year grants are awarded to advance and encourage youth education, primarily in theareas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The foundation also supports projects that strengthen and improve the quality of life in mid-Michigan, Florida, and several other communities.

The Information Technology Empowerment Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works with students and families in the Greater Lansing area to build excitement for coursework and careers in science, technology, engineering and math. A collaborative partnership between community, business, education, and government, ITEC is making an impact in Lansing by developing the region’s talent.

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