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Boeing Gives $100,000 to Arizona Non-profit to Support STEM and Anti-racism in Schools

Updated: Dec 1, 2020


Kim Graham l 615-509-7422


Tiffany Pitts | 714-329-3027

December 3rd, 2020 –The Arizona Educational Foundation is the recipient of a $100,000 Boeing grant supporting work in anti-racism and STEM in schools. Boeing is a longtime proponent of STEM education with school-based partnerships throughout Arizona, particularly in Mesa where the company manufactures Apache Attack Helicopters. Earlier this summer, in the wake of the death of George Floyd, Boeing broadened its commitment to serving communities, denouncing discrimination and harassment of any kind. In a statement issued by Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun, he stated Boeing would have zero tolerance for bigotry and outlined action steps that the company was implementing to combat racism. Among those steps was a doubling of Boeing’s support of local communities. The $100,000 grant given to the Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF) is part of a $50 million investment over the next four years to confront racism and build more inclusive opportunities within the communities where Boeing resides.

Supporting and celebrating excellence in Pre-K through 12th grade public schools is the mission of EF). Part of that support is making sure students and teachers are provided with specialized learning and engagement opportunities. AEF’s new anti-racism initiative, called Our World, is a direct response to the death of George Floyd and a way to help students and teachers build understanding. “When discussing race, especially traumatic events that flood national television and social media, young people want to be part of those conversations,” stated AEF executive director Kim Graham. “They have questions and school is often the only place where students can have constructive conversations around racism, bias, and privilege. AEF created Our World to help provide teachers support and training to help their students.” Graham believes the Our World initiative will provide teachers with strategies to not only having constructive conversations with students about racism but also provide them with ideas for creating culturally inclusive classrooms where all students feel valued.

Graham states that with Boeing’s support, AEF will be able to provide the Our World initiative to any Arizona public school who wants the training free of charge.

Our World is spearheaded by AEF and is designed by Arizona Teachers of the Year and education leaders from the University of Phoenix and Grand Canyon University. “We not only need to support teachers who are currently in classrooms, but also emerging educators, those students in higher education programs who are about to become teachers,” explained Dr. Pam Roggeman, Dean of the College of Education at the University of Phoenix and AEF Board member. Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick, AEF Board member and Associate Dean of Outreach, Research & Development in the College of Education at Grand Canyon University, agrees: “Educators influence the next generation. What greater work could AEF be doing than helping schools create equitable and culturally inclusive environments for students?”

In addition to providing training to teachers, Our World also offers schools an opportunity to implement social justice projects led by students and have events where Black Indigenous Students of Color learn more about becoming teachers. “Arizona is home to amazing teachers working in dedicated public schools that serve a highly diverse student population,” states Graham. In a 2020 report issued by the Arizona Republic, Hispanics, African-Americans, Native Americans account for nearly 60% of the student population while over 70% of Arizona classrooms are led by teachers who identify as White.

Boeing sees their investment in AEF’s Our World initiative as a way of fulfilling its commitment to fostering equity and inclusivity in the communities where they reside. “Students' career choices can be inspired by teachers, and it’s especially important that they have diverse role models to connect to,” said Leann Shaffer, Boeing Global Engagement Community Investor. “While equity, diversity and inclusion are part of our values at Boeing, we are equally committed to expanding our reach in the communities where our employees live and work. That is why we are so excited to partner with AEF on this new program.”

In addition to supporting Our World, Boeing also gave AEF funding for teachSTEM, a highly unique program for junior high and high school students that raises awareness about the need for more STEM teachers. “Arizona is a major hub for technology yet our state labors under a severe teacher shortage, especially in areas like math and science,” explains Kim Graham. “teachSTEM provides classroom-based opportunities for students to build STEM workforce skills and also learn from STEM subject matter experts. Everyone’s story includes a teacher, so every engineer, every scientist, every doctor, found their way to that career by way of a teacher.” Because of Boeing, students will now be able to take a virtual tour of an Apache Attack Helicopter and recently had a virtual classroom visit from a Boeing pilot. teachSTEM is AEF’s way of helping students build important connections between what they are learning in the classroom and real-world experiences that influence their future career choices.

Both teachSTEM and Our World utilize the talents and expertise of Arizona Teachers of the Year and Ambassadors for Excellence in Education. “It’s critical that teacher voice is at the heart of these programs,” emphasizes Graham. AEF runs the state’s Arizona Teacher of the Year program, with the annual winner going on to become Arizona’s candidate for National Teacher of the Year. Graham sees both Our World and teachSTEM as bringing AEF’s work full circle: “Arizona Teacher of the Year recognizes the best of the best in teaching,” states Graham. “Our World and teachSTEM both include opportunities to motivate young people to become teachers and we’re grateful to Boeing and our other partners for helping us inspire what we hope will become Arizona’s next generation of educators.”

Supporting both teachSTEM and Our World is Boeing’s way of making a profound investment in Arizona education and communities. “It’s important that we continue to invest in programs that are working to make real change. It is through these partnerships that we can help make advances in racial equity and inspire future generation of STEM leaders,” said Leann Shaffer, Boeing Global Engagement Community Investor.

For more information about Our World or teachSTEM, contact Kim Graham, at or (480) 421-9376.

PHOTO DOWNLOADS: Access photos here.

About Arizona Educational Foundation:

The mission of AEF is to identify, support and celebrate excellence in Pre-K-12th grade Arizona public education through business and community partnerships. We do this through a variety of programs for teachers, administrators, and students. Some of our programs shine a spotlight on excellence; others provide a stepping stone to help support schools and educators on the road to awesomeness. In addition to the Arizona Teacher of the Year program, AEF also coordinates the Arizona State Spelling Bee, the A+ School of Excellence Award, the Principals Leadership Academy of Arizona, teachSTEM, and Take Your Legislator to School. AEF was founded in 1983 by then State Superintendent of Public Education, Carolyn Warner, who felt a nonprofit needed to be established to champion public education and recognize the great work of public school educators.

About The Boeing Company:

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As the top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.


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