Nonprofit Planning STEM Innovation Center in New Orleans East
NEW ORLEANS – Local nonprofit STEM NOLA said it will use a portion of a new $1.25 million dollar grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to create an innovation center in New Orleans East.
The project is currently in the design and fundraising stage.
STEM NOLA plans to house the Innovation Center in a 42,000-square-foot building formerly owned by Ochsner Health located at 6800 Plaza Drive. The structure was damaged during Hurricane Katrina and was donated to the nonprofit by the health system.
A spokesperson for STEM NOLA said the new facility will feature a specialized STEM-exploration laboratory space, classrooms and meeting spaces, and it will serve as the headquarters for the delivery and design of programming.
“We are grateful to the Kellogg Foundation for their generous gift,” said Dr. Calvin Mackie, STEM NOLA founder and CEO, in a release. “This grant will support our innovative STEM educational ecosystem and kick off our plans to build the first STEM NOLA Innovation HUB, a hands-on, educational incubator, exposing and inspiring little boys and girls with STEM opportunities to cultivate their own STEM career dreams, with an emphasis on underserved students of color.”
STEM NOLA said its programming addresses “early childhood STEM exposure and skill gaps among Black and Latinx youth with engagement tools to improve mathematics and science proficiency, build confidence and performance in STEM-related subjects, and offer STEM-based professional development to childhood educators with STEM-based curriculum and materials.”
STEM NOLA said it has delivered programs to more than 65,000 children, 10,000 families and 1,200 schools across the country and in four countries since 2013. Since May 2020, the nonprofit has worked with more than 2,000 elementary school-age children each month through its “virtual hands-on” workshops and activities.