As a small-business owner, you likely value your community and constantly look for ways to give back to it. What better way to do this than by supporting your local STEM students? By offering your support, you can benefit in several ways.
For one, you gain access to a pool of talented, skilled individuals who can drive your business forward. Secondly, you’re cultivating the next generation of innovators. STEM fields are at the forefront of technological progress — and supporting your local STEM students may help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues.
To start supporting and making a huge impact on local STEM education, consider these ideas below.
1. Offer Internships and Job Opportunities to STEM Students
Small businesses can support local STEM students by offering internships and job opportunities.
Students interested in this field are constantly looking for opportunities to gain experience. They want to see what it’s like to work as part of a team and learn how to apply their ideas in a real-world setting. By offering internships and job opportunities, you’re doing them and yourself a favor by letting them get hands-on experience while you benefit financially by hiring them at lower rates.
The best way for business owners to make this happen is by contacting local schools’ STEM departments directly. Explain that you want to hire students interested in working or completing an internship in this field.
By offering jobs and internships, they can gain valuable experience as long as you continue to provide training and value feedback.
2. Make Donations or Grants to Local STEM Schools
Small businesses that are about supporting their local community make an impact by donating and sponsoring events. Some of the ways they can make a difference through this are by implementing the following ideas:
- Donate school supplies: STEM classes often require specialized equipment and materials that school budgets don’t usually cover. You can make a difference by donating items such as safety goggles, microscopes and robotics equipment for classroom use.
- Sponsor field trips: Field trips are an important part of any K-12 education — they allow students to experience real-world applications of the skills they’re learning in class. However, field trips can be expensive for schools without funding from parents or other sources. Your donation could ensure that all students have access to these educational experiences.
- Give grants: Many schools look for contributions from businesses to help cover expenses related to STEM education. Consider contacting a school or program to let them know you’re interested in donating or granting. They will likely be thrilled to hear from you and can provide more information on how to proceed.
3. Give Away Scholarships
Another way to support local STEM students is by giving away scholarships. Many small businesses in their communities realize the difference they make when changing a student’s life.
For example, Watermark’s scholarship program offers female STEM college students $5,000 to support their continued education. By providing scholarships, they facilitate the financial means for students who want to pursue STEM studies and help them achieve their goals.
Giving away scholarships is easy. The first step is defining the scholarship criteria and ensuring they align with your business’s values and goals. Then, you can start promoting the scholarship program and awarding students with financial needs.
You can even take it further by partnering with organizations like Girl Develop It or Code Camp. That way, they can help you run your scholarship program and ensure all applicants are eligible for the prize.
Consider hosting an award ceremony as well. This can be a great opportunity to meet and connect with recipients and to showcase your commitment to supporting education in your community.
4. Provide Mentorship to STEM Students
Mentorship is a great way for small businesses to invest in young STEM learners. It helps them gain real-world experience and provides access to resources that benefit their future.
Here are some ways you can provide mentorship for STEM students in your community:
- If you’re running a small business, consider offering your skills as a mentor to local school programs. The experience of working with a successful small business owner may be what some young people need to decide whether they want to pursue a STEM career.
- Become involved with your local STEM programs by hosting workshops or lectures. These events are ideal for mentors because they allow them to share their experiences while helping others learn from them.
- Host an event at your business where local students can work on STEM projects. Project-based learning allows you to work with students on school projects or research initiatives, provide feedback, offer guidance and give technical expertise.
- If you have any spare office space, offer it free to local STEM groups for meetings or workshops. This will help these groups save money on rent and other costs associated with hosting events at different locations around town.
5. Volunteer and Collaborate With Local STEM Programs
Consider offering your services to local STEM programs by volunteering or collaborating with them. Both groups can benefit from working together — small businesses get to know potential talent, and students get educational support.
One of the ways that small businesses can volunteer is by guest speaking. You can offer to talk to students at local STEM schools about their industry and career paths. It’s a great opportunity to inspire and motivate students and provide insights into what it takes to succeed.
You could also get started by making visits to classrooms. As a small-business owner, you can offer to visit and provide hands-on demonstrations or activities relevant to their industry. Plus, this can be a fun and engaging way to introduce students to real-world applications of STEM concepts.
Helping Your Local STEM Students
STEM students are the future of our economy, and small businesses have a role to play in helping them succeed. By providing opportunities for local students to learn about entrepreneurship at an early age and encouraging them to pursue STEM careers, you’ll be helping your community thrive.
Just make sure you’re doing it in the ways that support local STEM students, and use these ideas to learn how to contribute. Because the more you know, the more impact you’ll have.
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