December 2, 2022

Black Couple Wins $1.2M Grant To Reimagine STEM Education

Black-owned education-focused foundation, HEPH, has been awarded a $1.2 million grant to support its commitment to learners. 

The grant, which has been provided by the How We Learn Fund, was awarded to founders Steve and Sheila Conner to help advance the development of STEM-related studies for Black and brown children starting with the Chicagoland area. 

What is the HEPH Foundation?

Founded by Steve and Sheila Conner, the HEPH Foundation is named after Hephaestus, the Greek god that made tools for the gods. The educational foundation’s mission is to transform disengaged learners into lifelong inquisitive STEM learners with ample knowledge and social-emotional tools to solve any problem.

For over 25 years, Steve and Sheila have been on a mission to help people find knowledge and pathways to work through tech, science, and engineering. According to Steve and Sheila, they had noticed that Black learners had grown out of touch with STEM and wanted to do something that would help “tuned out” students enjoy learning about math and science, which is why they decided to launch the foundation. 

The foundation’s mission to revolutionize STEM

The foundation’s overall mission is to engage learners and help them find STEM-related pathways for success in school and the workforce. The initiative focuses on the learner by incorporating mindfulness, teamwork, creativity, and real-world problem-solving skills into their learning experience. 

“Our work helps children leap beyond their fears of STEM to find pathways to the future,” said co-founder Steven Conner. 

“We are excited to receive support for our mission to prepare learners for the future of work. This support is essential in helping us continue our work to advance appreciation, acceptance, and excitement around the importance of STEM.” 

The foundation’s robust infrastructure, combined with its tailored curriculum, has proven successful over recent years. Through the program, parents and teachers have implemented a successful STEM learning curriculum that has helped to evolve the educational landscape of how students perceive STEM. 

Kumba Kpakima

Kumba Kpakima is a reporter at POCIT. A documentary about the knife crime epidemic in the UK got her a nomination for the UK's #30toWatch Young Journalists of the Year.