Helen Gurley Brown Trust Announces $7.5 Million Grant to American Museum of Natural History to Create "BridgeUp: STEM" Program
BridgeUp: STEM Will Expose Young Women & Low-Income NYC Youth to Computer Science as Social, Accessible & Empowering Tool; 4th Major Educational Grant from Gurley Brown Since 2010; Over $55 Million Donated
The Helen Gurley Brown Trust today announced a gift of $7.5 million to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) to establish BridgeUp: STEM, a program for young women and low-income New York City youth to explore computer science and coding through projects that tackle real-world problems.
BridgeUp: STEM will inspire young women in high school and college, and underserved middle school youth in New York City, to pursue careers in computer science and serve as role models for younger generations. The program seeks to reverse troubling trends that show a steep decrease in computer science education.
“Helen’s support for innovation, technology and mentorship is echoed in every aspect of this groundbreaking program,” says Hearst Executive Vice Chairman Frank A. Bennack, Jr.
“BridgeUp: STEM aligns with the American Museum of Natural History’s mission to educate people about human culture and the natural world,” says AMNH President Ellen Futter. “This generous gift from the Helen Gurley Brown Trust will provide the Museum with opportunities to enable young people to acquire computer technology skills while anchoring this learning to, and inspiring them about, the wonders of science. The Museum is deeply appreciative and admiring of the Helen Gurley Brown Trust for its vision and generosity in supporting this trailblazing initiative.”
“Just as Helen Gurley Brown inspired young women around the world to follow their personal and professional dreams, this gift will encourage intelligent young women to excel in the field of computer science where the opportunities are unlimited,” says Eve Burton, senior vice president of Hearst Corporation.
The cornerstone of all Helen’s philanthropy is to provide funding—or magic grants—to individuals who have transformative ideas. BridgeUp: STEM has five key components that allow for both educational and mentorship opportunities, and will also include a “den” space for program activities at the Museum.
- Brown Scholars: 30-36 female high school students will be recruited each year from around New York City, chosen for their interest in science and passion around computers, design and technology. The program aims to provide an early platform for the next generation of computer scientists through the acquisition of technical skills and a lifetime community of like-minded peers and mentors. The Brown Scholars program will culminate in the creation of a Web-based or mobile application related to local communities, cultures and environment.
- Helen Fellows: Three to four women will be recruited annually from university science, computer science and entrepreneurship programs. Fellows will aid Brown Scholars and younger students to master the BridgeUp curriculum through teaching classes, developing projects and organizing field trips, speakers and partnerships.
- After-school Middle School Program: Classes for girls and boys in grades six through nine. Co-taught by Helen Fellows and AMNH educators with the assistance of Brown Scholars, the program will provide exposure to coding and science content. With an emphasis on diversity, the classes will include more than 100 students recruited from underserved NYC schools each year.
- Entrepreneurial/Research Projects: Scholars, Fellows and middle school participants will be encouraged to develop research projects that will be funded from “magic grants” from the Helen Gurley Brown Trust.
- Computer Science Faculty: Teaching capacity to support, promote and collaborate directly with the program. This faculty member will work to integrate computing, data, and research ideas from BridgeUp: STEM across the museum and into the research labs.
BridgeUp extends the Museum’s deep commitment to supporting exploration and mastery of science for children and youth on-site and through partnership programs in New York City public schools. These programs include the nationally-recognized New York City public middle school science education initiative, Urban Advantage and the Race to the Top funded Masters in Arts in earth science teaching program innovation launched in 2012.
BridgeUp: Science is led by Program Director Christina Wallace, who will interview and select Helen Fellows and Brown Scholars and oversee the selection of after-school program participants. She will also work to establish and negotiate key partnerships with targeted technology industry experts, education organizations and schools, as well as develop a speaker series, support teacher professional development and coordinate an annual hackathon to bring together software developers, scientists, educators, parents and students to develop projects aligned with the program’s mission.
With her experience as co-founder and CEO of women’s apparel brand Quincy and vice president of the Startup Institute in New York, Wallace brings a strong understanding of innovation, strategy and technology to BridgeUp: STEM. She received her bachelor’s in mathematics from Emory University and a master’s in management from Harvard Business School.
“The shortage of people, especially women, with computer science skills needed in today’s economy is something I am thrilled to help reverse,” Wallace says. “The BridgeUp: STEM program will not only encourage community and pride in the industry but will also encourage innovation and discovery through magic grants.”
The late Helen Gurley Brown’s belief that education could build the bridge to a more fulfilling life can be seen in her Trust’s more than $55 million in donations to educational programs over the past three years. The legendary editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, along with her late husband, the acclaimed movie producer and executive David Brown, were committed to supporting education, technology and the New York community.
In 2012, they gifted $38 million to Columbia and Stanford Universities to establish the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation, housed at both Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and the School of Engineering at Stanford. Since Gurley Brown’s death in 2012, the Helen Gurley Brown Trust has also granted $15 million to the New York Public Library for the creation of a program for at-risk youth. In 2010, she also gifted $2 million to Smith College.
About the American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world’s preeminent scientific and cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1869, the Museum has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret, and disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education, and exhibition. The Museum is renowned for its exhibitions and scientific collections, which serve as a field guide to the entire planet and present a panorama of the world’s cultures.
About Hearst Corporation
Hearst Corporation (www.hearst.com) is one of the nation’s largest diversified media and information companies. Its major interests include ownership of 15 daily and 34 weekly newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News and Albany Times Union; hundreds of magazines around the world, including Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, ELLE and O, The Oprah Magazine; 29 television stations, which reach a combined 18 percent of U.S. viewers; ownership in leading cable networks, including Lifetime, A&E, HISTORY and ESPN; significant holdings in automotive, electronic and medical/pharmaceutical business information companies; a 50 percent stake in global ratings agency Fitch Group; Internet and marketing services businesses; television production; newspaper features distribution; and real estate. Follow us on Twitter @HearstCorp and subscribe to Hearstlink.
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