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Two foundations to raise up to $250,000 for Skaneateles schools

Education Foundation and Soderberg Foundation announce partnership to aid STEM programs

Two non-profit groups recently announced their intention to partner up to provide funding to the Skaneateles schools for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs.

The new partnership brings together the Skaneateles Education Foundation (SEF) and the Elsa and Peter Soderberg Charitable Foundation.

The initiative will focus on new innovative classroom resources and programming, expanded extracurricular opportunities and enriched professional development for teachers, according to a release from SEF.

The two organizations have committed a total combined investment of up to $250,000 over the next three years. SEF has promised to raise funds from the community to match every dollar the Soderberg foundation pledges toward Skaneateles STEM programs.

Judy Pastel, interim superintendent of schools, announced the partnership at the Skaneateles Board of Education’s Dec. 17 meeting.

The Soderberg Foundation has sent a $40,000 check, which SEF has already raised the money to match, Pastel said. One of the first additions in the schools will be the purchase of a commercial-grade 3-D printer (costing about $25,000) for the high school’s Project Lead the Way classes. The district also wants to offer summer programs based around STEM that will be free to students of the district, she said.

“This is what happens when you have advocates like SEF, and other members of the community, that are in a position to be able to help support, so now we have two foundations that are supporting the schools and all that is, is good stuff for kids,” Pastel said.

The manufacturing sector in the United States has an increasing need for professionals with an education in STEM disciplines. The changing job market is one reason the partnership was forged, Peter Soderberg said in the SEF release.

“Elsa and I feel a real call to action,” he said. “The United States is falling behind other developing countries in their ability to educate and train students for the many lucrative STEM occupations in the global job market. We want to seek and catalyze new and scalable paradigms in primary and secondary STEM education in partnership with school systems and other like-minded organizations.”

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