Maydm awarded $50K grant from CUNA Mutual Foundation

Funds will help the local technology nonprofit expand its STEM programming for girls and young people of color.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Maydm, a Madison-based technology education nonprofit, has been awarded a $50,000 general grant from the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation, the philanthropic arm of CUNA Mutual Group which supports nonprofit organizations that address economic challenges, education disparities, and equity issues within communities.

Maydm offers immersive, out-of-school programs and workshops where students in grades 6-12 build the skillset required to pursue career opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields and in the process create a diverse workforce pipeline in Dane County.

Winnie Karanja, Maydm’s founder and executive director, says the organization is thrilled with both the grant award and the fact that CUNA Mutual recognizes the value of its programming. “Our programs and workshops distinctly integrate technical skills, problem solving, design thinking, innovation, and teamwork to promote our students’ personal, academic, and professional growth,” Karanja explains. “Maydm empowers students to develop high-wage skills for a successful future.”

The CUNA Mutual grant will help Maydm expand the group’s reach in the community. With its focus on providing girls and youth of color the opportunity to gain skills-based training in the technology sector, Maydm is reaching a group that is typically underrepresented, notes Cedric Ellis, executive vice president and chief enterprise services officer for CUNA Mutual Group. “The grant from the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation helps to expand the educational opportunities that Maydm offers to ensure this innovative programming is available and accessible to more kids in our community,” Ellis states.

Maydm has been the first in-depth STEM adventure “for the majority of the students we’ve worked with,” and it wants to make the programming as accessible as possible. “We are growing our summer programs into three- and five-week, full-day [schedules] and eight-week, half-day immersion camps that will expand opportunities for deep learning,” Karanja explains. “Full-day programming makes it easier for working families to participate, many of whom live in underserved areas of Madison.”

The organization will continue to make program opportunities accessible by offering need-based scholarships, providing nutrition throughout the day, and hosting programs in community-accessible locations. Transportation to program sites is another service that Maydm looks to make available.

By developing students’ skills with technology, Maydm is also making a significant impact on the community. In Dane County, Karanja notes that girls and students of color are faced with profound and persistent disparities in education, employment, and income. At the same time, Wisconsin’s technology industry, which offers long-term careers at an average salary of $75,912, is in great need of qualified programmers. Companies in the tech industry need more workers in order to grow, and diversifying the labor pool is one way to address their workforce needs.

So, Maydm views this as both a challenge and an “amazing opportunity” to equip girls and students of color with the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to pursue a future in the tech field, while improving their quality of life and revolutionizing the tech industry. Say Karanja: “This grant from the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation shows a commitment to building equity in this space.”

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