Nonprofit, college partner on free and low-cost tech classes for southwest Michigan students

What’s happening: The nonprofit INNOVATE Albion organization has partnered with Kellogg Community College to offer free and low-cost hands-on tech classes to children in southwest Michigan, this thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation. Estimated to last at least a year, the grant money will fund the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programming for students ranging in ages from 8- to 18-years-old.

Who they are: INNOVATE Albion is a nonprofit teaching and training center in downtown Albion, teaching STEM and robotics classes to students year-round. Kellogg Community College (KCC) is a public community college based in Battle Creek with five campuses throughout southwest Michigan.

Why it’s important: “Lowering the cost of tech classes means more children will have access to high-quality STEM education, which is essential for their success in school and in the job market in the years to come,” says Caroline Dobbins-Hurteau, executive director for INNOVATE Albion.

What’s planned: The first slate of programming — Lego Challenge, Lego Adventure, and Kids Who Code — launched at the INNOVATE Albion technology center, a refurbished 100-year-old Masonic Temple in downtown Albion, on Monday, June 13. Additional courses are planned. KCC will unveil its own plans for tech courses at their five campuses later this summer. More information will be available on each organization’s website as it’s announced, found HERE and HERE.

What they’re saying: “With two major grant announcements this year, INNOVATE Albion is beginning to establish itself as an essential resource for schools and families in the region,” says Dobbins-Hurteau. The organization also received a $40,000 grant from the Guido A. and Elizabeth H. Binda Foundation earlier this year. Those STEM and robotics courses are scheduled to begin this July.

“Our goal is to develop a talent pipeline. We believe that for that to happen successfully, programs and opportunities need to be offered as early as kindergarten.”

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