YouthLink Awarded $40,000 Grant to Support STEM Education in South Carolina

Seneca, SC – August 7, 2017 – YouthLink STEM Academy today announced it has received a $40,000 grant from FIRST® – the national STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) advocacy nonprofit – to create access to hands-on STEM learning experiences for underrepresented and underserved students in South Carolina.

With the addition of the FIRST STEM Community Innovation Grant, YouthLink STEM Academy will create up to 144 FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. teams and provide students with project-based STEM experiences and welcoming spaces that develop interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.

FIRST launched its STEM Equity Community Innovation Grants program in 2016 to address equity, inclusion and diversity inequalities in STEM. Evaluation criteria include community need, demographics, increases in diversity; execution strength, track record of reaching targeted students and the value of the activities proposed. Grant Sponsors include Arconic Foundation, Qualcomm, Inc., Caterpillar, GM, GitHub, John Deere and New York City individuals, among others, and YouthLink will receive resources and support from FIRST as it develops its programs.

“According to a recent study, minority students in South Carolina are 38% of the college-age population but receive just 9% of STEM-related degrees,” said Dr. Charlie Shaw, YouthLink STEM Program Director.  “We have recognized this equity gap in our communities and are working diligently to expand access to STEM programming. Programs like FIRST create the opportunity for underserved and underrepresented students to build their technological skills, and learn critical problem-solving techniques all while working to develop their social and emotional skills.”

If your organization is interested in partnering with YouthLink to host a FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. team, please submit an online inquiry to the YouthLink STEM Academy.


About YouthLink

YouthLink is empowering youth in South Carolina by engaging them in programs designed to build and enhance their roles as active and responsible citizens within their communities. Programs include a STEM Academy, an intuitive approach to modern education relying on a new and revolutionary approach that brings the social, educational, work and global components together with an emphasis on STEM; Leadership Academy aimed at developing students to be true leaders and empowering them to inspire the same in others; Strategies for Success, a workshop that gives young people a set of proven tools to deal successfully with real life experiences.


About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $50 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to

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