Engaging Creative Minds (ECM) of Charleston recently received two exciting phone calls. The first was from Microsoft announcing a donation of $15,000 in cash and $4,128 in Microsoft software in support of ECM’s Summer STEAM Institute. The second phone call was from the National Summer Learning Association, notifying ECM that the organization is a semi-finalist for the New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award.
“I am so proud of our team, because we are one of only 17 sites selected from all across the country to be a semi-finalist for this prestigious award,” said Robin Berlinsky, executive director of Engaging Creative Minds. “Then to be given this incredible opportunity from Microsoft to expand and improve our computer science and coding curriculum at all our camp locations is just amazing.”
Microsoft is also excited about the partnership. “In order to fulfill our company mission of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, the Microsoft Philanthropies YouthSpark initiative is partnering with organizations that are empowering young people—particularly underserved communities, women and ethnic and racially diverse populations—providing them access to critical computer science education,” said Jeff Tozzi, Microsoft general manager, State & Local Government, East Region. “Together with Engaging Creative Minds, we can help more young people develop computer science skills that will prepare them for tomorrow’s global economy, regardless of their career path.”
The New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award recognizes outstanding summer programs or models that demonstrate excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for young people between pre-kindergarten and 12th grade. The awards are given annually based on an application process that reviews the program’s history, mission, goals, operations, management, staff development, partnerships, results, and sustainability. Interviews are conducted with a small group of semi-finalists followed by site visits to a select group of finalists to observe program activities before announcing the awards. Winners will be honored at the National Summer Learning Association conference in Seattle in October. “With Microsoft’s support, I believe we have a really good shot at bringing this award home to South Carolina,” said Berlinsky.
Engaging Creative Minds provides six weeks of arts integration summer camps for rising 3rd – 8th graders at St. Paul Elementary School in Clarendon School District One, thanks to a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission. ECM also has camps at the College of Charleston and The Citadel.
Each of the six-week summer camps engages students in activities that support STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) curriculum. Campers work alongside professional artists, educators, cultural organizations and athletic providers to explore weekly themes like robotics and forensic science. Groups are small for more 1:1 interaction between adults and campers. “The goal is making sure every child is engaged, happy, and having so much fun they don’t even know they are learning!” said Berlinsky. In addition to the funding it receives from the South Carolina Arts Commission, Summer STEAM Institute receives support from Youth Endowment for the Arts (The Charleston Marathon) and Boeing SC.
The mission of Engaging Creative Minds is to inspire the creative and innovative potential of all students to achieve academically and become imaginative, adaptable, and productive adults resulting in stronger communities and an increasingly competitive South Carolina workforce. Engaging Creative Minds is a 501-c-3 organization.
Via: Engaging Creative Minds, National Summer Learning Association