New Grants Strengthen Uniquely Human Skills While Developing Emerging Technology Expertise

Posted on Monday, November 1st, 2021

As Siegel Family Endowment continues to invest in reimagining the education system, we’re supporting organizations that reconsider what should be taught in a more future-resilient and inclusive system. Our grants to Project Invent, The Tech Interactive, Genspace, the Biodesign Challenge, and HYPOTHEkids will broaden access to the skills that students will need to succeed in the innovation economy. These organizations work to both strengthen ever-crucial, uniquely human skills, as well as prepare students with frontier skills for emerging industries. 

Uniquely Human Skills

Real-world problem solving, inventiveness, and creativity are just a few skills that technology cannot replace. These “uniquely human skills” will help people work alongside emerging technologies, thus rendering them more resilient in ages of increasing automation. The foundation’s funding will support organizations that reinforce these human-centric abilities by providing students with project-based learning experiences and educators with training and tools to enhance their teaching. 

Project Invent is a design thinking and innovation program that gives high schoolers access to tools and resources to build their own tech solutions for real-world problems. Project Invent guides students through the process of empathizing with users, brainstorming creative ideas, building meaningful solutions, and even pitching for funding. It also provides teachers with training to support this new generation of inventors. 

Similarly, The Tech Interactive, a science and technology center in San Jose, California, provides a space for young people to practice critical thinking and innovation through hands-on activities, experimental labs, and design challenge experiences. Through these grants, we are helping to foster future-resilient skills within the next generation of entrepreneurs and changemakers.

Frontier Skills

The future economy will be steered by industries that are only just taking shape. To participate in these industries, students must be prepared with what we call “frontier skills” — the abilities, knowledge, and literacies necessary to participate in and drive emerging fields. In this set of grants, the foundation focused its attention on biotechnology, a field whose market size is projected to grow to more than a trillion dollars by 2028. By funding Genspace, the Biodesign Challenge, and HYPOTHEkids, we will help offer students – especially students of color and from underserved backgrounds – exposure and experience with this growing sector that holds immense promise for them as individuals, as well as for our society at large. 

Genspace is the world’s first community biology lab, which provides an inclusive environment for people from all backgrounds and ages to engage with the life sciences. Our support will enable Genspace to continue growing and expanding. With that, this grant will allow for more educational programs and events that expose young people to careers at the intersection of life sciences and technology. It will also mean continuing Genspace’s ability to offer affordable lab space to innovators and designers so that everyone, including those from non-traditional and underrepresented backgrounds, has the opportunity to pursue life sciences and biotechnology innovation. 

Siegel Family Endowment will also support a new initiative by the Biodesign Challenge, an education program and competition that empowers students to explore applications of biotechnology and the impact of this growing field on society more broadly. The new initiative, BDC Afterschool, will work with high school instructors from underserved communities to prepare students to compete in the Biodesign Challenge. By working with teachers to bridge biotech, ethics, and design education, BDC Afterschool aims to provide equitable access to this new frontier to students who are typically excluded from the sciences.

Similarly focused on equity and accessibility, HYPOTHEkids provides underserved New York City students with hands-on science and engineering educational and mentorship experiences. Our grant supports HYPOTHEkids’ mission to address the fact that students of color from historically marginalized communities and at under-resourced NYC schools rarely experience hands-on science learning. By investing in additional STEAM learning for students both in-school and out-of-school, we aim to offer more students the skills to succeed in a high-tech economy. 

Siegel Family Endowment is committed to reimagining education, from the infrastructure of the system itself to the content of what is taught in and out of schools. As our increasing dependence on technology forces us to rethink how we’re preparing the next generation of innovators, we will continue to support forward-looking organizations that rise to this challenge.

Read the press release here.

Learn More

  • Project Invent: Project Invent empowers students with the 21st-century skills to succeed individually and impact globally, through invention. Their goal is to create a generation of fearless, compassionate problem solvers.
  • The Tech Interactive: TheTech Interactive is a family-friendly science and technology center in the heart of downtown San Jose. Their hands-on activities, experimental labs and design challenge experiences empower people to innovate with creativity, curiosity and compassion. The Tech is a world leader in the creation of immersive STEAM education resources to develop the next generation of problem-solvers locally, nationally and globally. They believe that everyone is born an innovator who can change the world for the better.
  • Genspace: Since 2009, Genspace has served the greater New York area by providing hands-on STEAM education programs for youth and adults, cultural and outreach events for the public, and a membership program to support New York’s community of creatives, researchers, and entrepreneurs.
  • Biodesign Challenge: Biodesign Challenge is an international education program and competition that partners high school and college students with scientists, artists, and designers to create projects that envision, create, and/or critique transformational applications in biotechnology. 
  • HYPOTHEkids: HYPOTHEkids is a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Design, Math) education and youth talent development initiative with a mission to provide underserved students with hands-on science and engineering education and mentorship experiences such that they can thrive in the high-tech economy of tomorrow.