New STEAM program aims to spark young minds

Media Release
November 14, 2018

WE-STEAM Trillium Grow Grant.png 
Jennifer Hitchcock & Lorraine Goddard (United Way) along with Paresh Jariwala (Ontario Trillium Foundation),announce a $350K Grant for the WE-STEAM program, along with one of the program partners, Kathleen Thomas (Multicultural Council).

Windsor, ON – United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County has launched a new program to help students bolster their skills and interest in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math subjects (STEAM). Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) Grant Review Team member, Paresh Jariwala, was on hand to congratulate United Way and hear more about how the $350,300 OTF Grow Grant is making a difference in the lives of community members.

The United Way-developed pilot program, which launched in September at eight local program sites, makes participating in STEAM-based extra-curricular programming accessible through pre-existing, free after school programs in priority neighbourhoods.

Trained teachers visit the site once a week throughout the year and incorporate ‘high participation’ activities into existing after-school programming for kids ages 5-12. These activities encourage kids to be curious, learn discovery skills, ask questions, be creative and problem-solve while working together. The goal is to deliver the program to 200 children in the first year.

“By exposing kids to STEAM concepts when they are young, we can prepare and inspire them to build career paths towards in-demand 21st Century jobs,” says Lorraine Goddard, CEO of United Way. “Students are able to carry these skills into other aspects of their lives and help them realize the possibility of future careers in these fields of work.”

WE-STEAM participants ‘learn by doing’ - including hands-on experiments, robotics and coding, digital art and green-screen augmented reality projects. They will also create circuits, and do engineering and construction challenges while working in teams, among other no-cost activities.

Students at the Multicultural Council After School Program demo their robot
programming skills at the media event.

“WE-STEAM is a welcome addition to our after school program,” says Multicultural Council Executive Director Kathleen Thomas. “Open to newcomer and Canadian youth, the after school program provides everything from academic support and leadership development to fun, creative activities. The support of United Way offers next-level resources and technical skill development for young people interested in exploring technology. Our students couldn’t be happier.”

The eight program sites include Advocating Young Minds, CommUnity Partnership, Drouillard Place, Grandview Youth Program, Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County, Place du Partage, and South Essex Community Council.

The end-game of WE-STEAM is for students to show improved confidence and a rise in performance in STEAM subjects at school, sparking young minds to the possibility of future STEAM-based career fields.

The key program partners who support the program include Windsor-Essex FIRST Robotics, Let’s Talk Science, SMArt, the University of Windsor Faculty of Engineering, and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. 

The program is still in need of sponsors. To learn how to get involved or donate to the WE-STEAM program, visit or contact United Way at 519-258-0000 x1227.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations.  OTF awarded more than $120 million to some 700 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario. 

Media Contact

Karen Brady, Marketing & Communications Manager
w: 519-259-6192   
m: 519-564-8554

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