Cognizant’s “Making the Future”

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in

Initiative Awards 40 STEM Grants to Youth Programs Throughout the United States

TEANECK, N.J. -- Global business and technology services company Cognizant announced it is awarding 40 grants to expand afterschool, in-school and summer programs across more than 60 sites in 25 states through its Making the Future education initiative. Designed to promote creativity and inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among young learners, the initiative supports fun, hands-on "making" programs for students from grade school through high school. The 2016 grants will provide approximately 175,000 hours of making activities, including projects on electronics, robotics, computer programming, digital fabrication, 3D printing and wearable technology.

Cognizant's Making the Future initiative, part of the company's overall efforts to promote skills that help ensure a competitive American workforce, was launched in 2011. Through the annual grants and other programs, Making the Future has introduced more than 260,000 children nationwide to over 1.9 million hours of making activities focused on STEM disciplines. 

“Numerous studies show that in addition to developing their creativity, confidence and motivation, making is an excellent way for children to gain exposure to the STEM disciplines and gain experience with the types of workforce skills required to succeed in our evolving digital economy,” said Steven Schwartz, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Cognizant. “The talent shortage in the STEM fields is real.  Through Making the Future, Cognizant is giving young learners an avenue for developing interest and passion for STEM subjects across socio-economic barriers and stereotypical gender divides. As a U.S.-based company and technology leader, Cognizant is committed to developing and supporting education initiatives that promote skills for the 21st century knowledge economy, helping American workers thrive today and in the future, and preparing our youth to capitalize on STEM career opportunities going forward.”

Making programs continue to be facilitated predominately by museums, libraries, Makerspaces and youth-focused nonprofits. However, the 2016 Making the Future grant applications indicated increasing interest from a broader set of stakeholders, including: schools seeking to incorporate making as an integral part of classroom instruction; nonprofit real estate development corporations investing in making incubators to grow creative economies; and colleges committed to collaborative projects with youth organizations in underserved neighborhoods.

“We know that Cognizant's grant is a strong investment in our students’ futures,” said Dr. Shawn Hirsch, Director at The Monarch School in Houston, Texas. “By expanding the technological capacity of The STEAMworks, Cognizant will allow Monarch's students to explore, learn and experiment in the world of rapid manufacturing and engineering. Students will have access to cutting-edge tools, both digital and machine, to dream, create, collaborate and improve. Our students will be able to grow from reluctant learners with challenges that seem insurmountable to agents of change with unique perspectives and powerful voices. We are thrilled to be working with Cognizant.”

“The Lower Eastside Girls Club is thrilled to receive funding from Cognizant for Maker Girls, a production-centered program aimed at strengthening digital literacy and scientific knowledge in tween girls by marrying technical skills with creative expression,” said Dr. Lyn Pentecost, Founder and Executive Director of the Lower Eastside Girls Club in New York. “Together with Cognizant we can ‘make’ the world a better place!”

Cognizant has already exceeded its White House 2014 commitment to provide 1.5 million hours of making experiences to 25,000 youth in over 200 communities by the end of 2017. In addition to awarding annual program grants, Cognizant's Making the Future initiative teams with leading non-profits and maker-focused organizations in expanding the maker footprint across the U.S. through a variety of initiatives, including: in funding classroom projects, Maker Corps in hosting sites to train making facilitators and Maker Faires in New York and California in hosting the Young Makers Pavilion. 

New alliances for Cognizant in 2016 include FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, an international K-12 not-for-profit organization that inspires young people's interest and participation in science and technology) to sponsor Junior FIRST Lego Leagues in neighborhood libraries as well as an extension of ongoing initiatives with the New York Hall of Science in sponsoring its Maker Space plus its upcoming Maker Therapy initiative.  In addition, Cognizant annually awards U.S. college scholarships to students pursuing STEM careers and supports various workforce-training initiatives.

The 40 organizations receiving Making the Future grants in 2016 are:

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