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Motorola Foundation Convenes Education Leaders and Grantees to Explore Future of U.S. STEM Education


New “Innovator” employee volunteer program to help bridge the gap between corporate and non-profit sectors.

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. – The Motorola Foundation’s first Innovation Generation grantee conference is currently underway at the company’s corporate headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill. The Foundation is convening more than 100 grantees and leaders in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for a two-day conference to share best practices, leverage resources and cultivate an informed frontline of advocates to move the U.S. STEM education agenda forward.

“By investing in the improvement of math and science education, we are investing in the future of our students,” said Eileen Sweeney, director of the Motorola Foundation. “Our approach goes well beyond funding. We create meaningful connections among grantees, educational innovators, our employees and other STEM advocates to help these organizations build capacity and ensure that students have the skills and tools they need to excel in tomorrow’s workforce.”

The conference builds on the Motorola Foundation’s Innovation Generation grant program. The program provided $5 million in grants in 2009 to organizations across the U.S. that engage pre-school through high-school students in STEM education both inside and outside of the classroom, preparing them with the problem-solving skills they need for success today and in the future.

Throughout the event, grantees will have the opportunity to learn from expert practitioners, share best practices and connect with each other to encourage innovation and creative thinking. In a recent survey of the grantees, 40 percent of respondents indicated that engaging young women was the most important issue to address in building the next generation of innovators. Increasing out-of-school programming options for students was the second most important area (36 percent). The conference will explore both of these topics as well as sessions on entrepreneurship, teaching methods, the importance of mentors and environmental programming.

Confirmed speakers include:

* Sarah Caldicott, Author, Innovate Like Edison
* Ruthe Farmer, Director of Strategic Initiatives, National Center for Women & Information Technology
* Miquela Craytor, Executive Director, Sustainable South Bronx
* Paul Gudonis, President, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST)
* Juan Barrientos, Development Officer, Games for Learning - New York University
* Dr. Wendy DuBow, Research Associate, National Center for Women & Information Technology

The conference also marks the launch of Motorola’s “Innovators” employee volunteer program, which pairs a Motorola employee with each of the 112 non-profits receiving Innovation Generation grants. The Innovators program is designed to provide ongoing support for grantees, beyond simply funding their projects. By having Motorola employees serve in this role, the non-profits not only have access to real-life scientists, engineers and other business professionals, but also have a connection back to the company and a business advocate for their initiatives. Employee Innovators will receive specialized training and serve as an extension of the Motorola Foundation to provide a valuable resource.

“As a company of scientists, engineers and inventors, Motorola’s employees have unique skill sets that can directly benefit our grantees and impact the U.S. STEM education agenda,” said Eileen Sweeney. “Motorola is acting on the nationwide call to action for people to volunteer in the community. By connecting employees with grantees, Motorola is helping bridge the gap between the non-profit and for-profit sectors.”

Innovators is the newest of Motorola’s robust company-sponsored volunteer programs. Each day Motorola employees give back to the community as volunteers on projects ranging from the annual company-wide Global Day of Service to individual mentoring and tutoring.

Updates from the conference will be posted in real time on Twitter at To learn more about the Motorola Foundation’s Innovation Generation, please visit


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