A new STEM Fund has been launched, by the Micron Foundation and the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) which will fund innovative solutions that are increasing gender diversity and equity in schools in India, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia. So far the fund has pooled $1 million in its first round, from Lenovo Foundation, XTX Markets and BHP.
The STEM Fund will support solutions that are improving the STEM learning outcomes of girls below 18 years old. Providing unrestricted funding to non-profit organisations working to increase access to STEM Learning opportunities for girls in these markets.
‘Our collaborative philanthropy with AVPN and the other funders will help identify and support transformative solutions that enable girls to access STEM education,’ said April Arnzen, Micron CPO and President of the Micron Foundation Board. ‘This will not only help them achieve their dream careers in tech, it will help drive more inclusive global innovation.’
The recently launched UNESCO report states by 2030, some 880 million children will not be on track to develop the skills they need to succeed in the workforce. According to the report, increasing women’s participation in STEM careers has the power to close the gender pay gap and boost women’s cumulative earnings by $299 billion over the next ten years.
‘Given that the digital divide has become more pronounced post-pandemic, with women being one of the hardest hit groups, partnering with AVPN to double down on our digital inclusion efforts is a natural step for us,’ said Calvin Crosslin, Chief Diversity Officer and President of the Lenovo Foundation. ‘By providing women and girls from disadvantaged groups with unfettered access to STEM education and equipping them with the requisite digital skills and knowledge, we hope to help them succeed in the workforce of the future and achieve a better sense of autonomy and quality of life.’
Applications to the STEM Fund will open in August 2022, and the Fund’s grantees will be selected through an online application process. Each application will be reviewed by a group of experts that are part of the AVPN Expert Collective – a group of social investment experts across diverse thematic and technical areas.
Social investors and policymakers are invited to join the AVPN Global Conference in Bali 21 – 24 June to get insights into how the STEM Fund was catalysed by the anchor partners of the fund, together with AVPN, and form other strategic partnerships. The output of this convening will then be added to the main agenda of the G20, making it a strategic opportunity for all social investors and impact funders to secure ‘a seat at the table’.
‘Our vision for Gender at AVPN is to see a more equitable world for women and girls across Asia, and mobilising unrestricted financial capital through this STEM Fund will no doubt play a role in actualising this vision,’ says Patrica Mathias, Head – Gender platform at AVPN. ‘However, while we are seeing more funding to close the SDG Gender gaps in Asia, we must also remain cognisant of the rich diversity and complexities of Asia, and ensure more stakeholders join us to catalyse their capital, technical assistance and policy influence — to truly see the systemic changes needed.’