Funder Spotlight: Trane Technologies - STEM Freedom School and Youth Science Day

In the Science Museum’s Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center (KAYSC), young people are using STEM to advance social justice, while addressing racial, gender, and economic inequities. 

One of the many ways they do this is through the STEM Freedom School, the first of its kind in the nation. This partnership with St. Paul City School combines the KAYSC’s expertise in hands-on STEM learning and the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom School Model to help build literacy, elevate STEM solutions, and curb summer learning loss for students in St. Paul’s Promise Neighborhood. Generous support from global climate innovator Trane Technologies is key to making it successful. 

The STEM Freedom School program serves 150 students from kindergarten through grade 8 each summer by igniting a passion for reading and a love of learning. In addition, the program provides opportunities for youth and young adults to serve as Student Leader Interns. In these roles, they develop and lead activities and coordinate logistics, building skills and gaining valuable experience that could lead to employment in in-demand STEM and education fields. 

STEM Freedom School days start with harambe, a read-aloud from a visiting adult, and literacy work. In the afternoons, scholars get involved in hands-on activities that focus on using STEM to solve problems in our community. Activities align with the KAYSC’s STEM content areas: biological sciences/public health, engineering and design, media and technology, and environmental science and sustainability.

“In our Freedom School, all STEM learning is focused on helping youth begin to see STEM as a tool for dismantling systemic oppression and achieving collective liberation,” says Joseph Adamji, director of the Science Museum’s Center for Equity Systems Change. “This support from Trane Technologies is helping us to build toward impacts that will continue far beyond the program, for our youth and for the field."

Trane’s support will also make this summer’s Youth Science Day possible. This yearly summer event brings hundreds of scholars from Freedom Schools around the Twin Cities to the museum for a day of exploration and celebration.

Trane Technologies and its strategic brands Trane® and Thermo King® share a deep commitment to the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, where the company has operated for over 80 years. In addition to their financial support, employees of Trane and Thermo King will be embodying the company’s volunteerism value by donating their time to STEM Freedom School and other KAYSC programs.

“Through volunteer opportunities, like the ones provided at the Science Museum of Minnesota, our employees are able to use their unique skills and knowledge to excite the imaginations of young students in hopes that they will become sustainability innovators in years to come,” says Deidra Parrish Williams, Trane Technologies’ leader of Global Corporate Social Responsibility. Volunteers have pitched in to help set up the Freedom School location and will volunteer as daily guest readers, and they will serve as mentors and STEM activity leaders and share their expertise and career paths with young people through various events, including speed networking. 

Trane’s support is part of its Sustainable Futures corporate citizenship initiative, which is designed to ensure that students from demographics underrepresented in the STEM field have access to healthy learning environments, early exposure to sustainability concepts, and support in accessing rewarding green and STEM careers.

Thank you, Trane, for making this important program possible!