The Swaliga Foundation is working to raise $80,000 for STEAM Clubs at local schools. (Courtesy Photo)

By Aysia Morton
Special to the AFRO

The Swaliga Foundation is on a quest to raise $80,000 for Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science, Calvin Coolidge High School, and five other schools that are currently on the waitlist for the organization’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Club.

The Foundation aims to cultivate global learning and inspire young people to “connect their passion to successful careers” by teaching varying subjects.

“We serve a variety of different communities, specifically here in the D.C. Metro area,” said Lemond “IMAG” Brown, 29, founder of The Swaliga Foundation. “Learning sessions will look different depending on the group of learners…making sure the activities we select are not just cookie cutter and that they are able to be molded  to the different group.”

The Foundation is an afterschool program that serves elementary, middle and high schools across the D.C. Metropolitan Area. However, schools like Howard University Middle School and Calvin Coolidge High School face significant financial barriers. Limited funding prevents the schools from offering programming to its students.

“The Swaliga Foundation is an organization that brings STEAM education to schools in capacity that is necessary for ultimate development,” said Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science STEM Teacher Janay Sanders.

“Having the Swaliga STEAM Club is important to us because students need exposure to the careers that will propel their future.  Students need to receive hands-on learning experiences and the Swaliga Foundation is an organization that has the background and foundation to promote STEAM education amongst our students. 

The District’s graduation rate for the 2019-2020 school year was 68 percent, below the national average of 86 percent, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Students who don’t graduate from high school have a higher chance of being unemployed than those who have a high school diploma or a college degree. According to data from America’s Promise Alliance, high school graduates make higher taxable income, aid in job generation and earn a national average of $9,204.

Since 2012, Brown and his colleagues have served more than 8,000 children around the world, including kids from the Boys & Girls Club in South Africa. In 2016, the Foundation implemented its South Africa Cultural Exchange trip, which allowed for young people from Washington, D.C. to travel to South Africa.

The Swaliga Foundation creates opportunities for youth that come from disadvantaged backgrounds and “is the bridge for the next generation, and works to level the playing field in some of the most disadvantaged communities across the world,” said Brown.

The need for STEAM based programs is at an all-time high due to the evolution of the U.S. economy and job market. Unfortunately, the educational system has remained stagnant. 

Naveen Jain, founder of SteamStruck, states that “the traditional system of standardized, rote learning that teaches to a test is exactly the type of education our children don’t need in this world that is plagued by systemic, pervasive and confounding global challenges,” he said. 

“Today’s education system does not focus enough on teaching children to solve real-world problems and is not interdisciplinary, nor collaborative enough in its approach.” The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth in STEM and STEAM related occupations at 10.5 percent between now and 2030.

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