MR. OCTOBER FOUNDATION FOR KIDS
Summary of STEM Program
Reggie started the Mr. October Foundation for Kids (“MOF”) over 20 years ago with the goal of helping to “bridge the digital divide” for the benefit of disadvantaged kids whose circumstances hampered their ability to achieve the goal of a good education. Reggie has never forgotten his father’s words: “Sports are great, son, but your legs will give out someday. Get an education; no one can ever take that away from you.”
Reggie’s efforts have made a difference. His Foundation has made repeated gifts to Morehouse College, Georgia Tech College of Engineering, the Detroit Public Schools, just to name a few. Additionally, the Foundation supports schools that are doing exceptional work for underserved kids, and schools such as Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, California. That school is among the select few that nurtures its students to succeed, and the kids do! Everyone, 100% of its graduates, attends a four-year college – thanks to the efforts of Eastside and its incredible staff. And, the school only admits kids whose parents have not attended college!
The Foundation has become a strong supporter of the Georgia Tech College of Engineering. Reggie’s friendship with Dr. Gary S. May, formerly the Dean of Georgia Tech, and now Dean of the Engineering School at UC Davis near Sacramento, CA, has helped strengthen the Foundation’s commitment to education directed toward STEM (science, technology engineering and math), an area that has traditionally been very underrepresented by minorities; yet, there are over 300,000 STEM-related jobs each year that go unfilled – and that number is expected to reach 1,000,000 in the next few years. The truth is that Georgia Tech graduates more African American engineers than any other college in the U.S. – and its graduates are sought by many large companies that have only recently started to focus efforts on diversity and inclusion. Those jobs are expected to grow, as are the opportunities for underrepresented students. Dr. May’s presence now on the West Coast offers the Foundation a great opportunity to help our program grow in the West.
It is little wonder that Reggie’s Foundation has evolved to the funding of STEM curricula geared for children of all ages who may not otherwise have exposure to these subjects, given the lack of public school resources.
Current STEM Programming
MOF has for the last five years teamed up with The STEM Academy, a non-profit based in Park City, Utah, that has developed middle and high school STEM curriculum (“STEM 101”). The Academy has agreed with MOFK to provide the online program without charge to various schools throughout the U.S. – and there are now over 1,000,000 students throughout the U.S. using this Program, which has been vetted by state departments of education, college engineering departments and public/private school districts across the country. The Program represents an online, blended-learning, project-based STEM curriculum and is viewed as an enhancement for existing curriculum during the school day as well as used in after school and summer school programming.
The STEM Program was developed with socio-economic, gender and cultural considerations and as a result is designed to create and hold the interest of students who may not otherwise be engaged in STEM education. The Program is aimed toward students of varied experience and, at the same time, provides a vehicle to advance the interest of English language learners (“ELL”), whose grasp of STEM principles is made easier by the removal of language barriers throughout the presentations, thereby increasing an appreciation both for science concepts and terminology at the same time as increasing English language skills.
Since 2014, MOF has been funding the amazing middle-school curriculum in schools in the Bronx, NY and Oakland, CA. We continue to look for support for existing programming as well as to expand to other cities where Reggie’s corporate connections have indicated a desire to participate. Funding takes the form of payment of teacher’s salaries, teacher training, program evaluation within each participating school, as well as the kits used by each child to allow participation in hands-on ‘experiments’ that are fun, engaging, and at the same time, specifically designed to illustrate the concepts that the students have just studied online.