Funder Spotlight: Trane Technologies - KAYSC

Trane renews its commitment to supporting youth STEM achievement and workforce development

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. 

The Trane Technologies Foundation makes charitable investments that support individuals and communities in achieving positive, sustainable outcomes, aligning with non-profit organizations in their primary business areas and supporting those financial contributions by getting Trane employees engaged in those organizations to share their skills and expertise. 

As longtime supporters of the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center (KAYSC), the STEM Freedom School, and Youth Science Day, Trane’s employees are welcome and familiar faces as the Science Museum works to promote literacy, STEM learning, and community leadership.

Trane Technologies Foundation has recently renewed and deepened its commitment to this work with a two-year, $1 million dollar grant to uplift three important projects within the KAYSC.

STEM Freedom School and Youth Science Day

This generous investment helps the Science Museum operate our highly successful STEM Freedom School, the first of its kind in the nation. Located in St. Paul’s Promise Neighborhood, the STEM Freedom 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. Trane’s support allows the Science Museum to layer in all the wraparound connections the program provides to the youth and families it serves, as well as build up the young adult educators connected to the program. During the annual Youth Science Day event, also made possible with the support of Trane Technologies, the Science Museum welcomed more than 1,000 scholars from all of Minnesota’s Freedom School programs for a celebration of young people and the cultivation of their curiosity, interest, and agency in STEM.

Workforce Innovation Lab

How do we prepare the future workforce to solve the mounting challenges of the 21st century? This question is at the heart of the KAYSC’s work, and Trane Technologies’ support is helping the KAYSC refine its curriculum to align more closely with high-demand STEM jobs. 

Trane has been instrumental in the development of the Workforce Innovation Lab, which will equip KAYSC youth with industry-aligned experiences, certifications, and credentials that they can use in their future careers.

In support of this project, several Trane Technologies’ employees are serving on a newly formed Workforce Innovation Committee of STEM professionals. Together, they’re collaborating to offer guidance on the Lab’s direction. The committee has suggested Data Analytics as an initial area to pursue, in response to the high demand for data analysts in the STEM workforce. These jobs pay a living wage, and many require certification training rather than a full college degree. As KAYSC staff are completing Data Analytics training and testing out how to build foundational skills for our young people in this STEM area, Trane Technologies volunteers are envisioning field trip opportunities to help them connect with real world data analytics professionals and try out skill building in STEM employment environments.

Spreading the word about the KAYSC’s unique and powerful STEM Justice approach

As steadfast supporters of the KAYSC’s work, Trane Technologies recognizes the value of its  research-proven STEM Justice approach, which positions STEM as a tool for social justice, collective liberation and a pathway to meaningful careers. Trane’s renewed investment will help the KAYSC spread the word about this approach to broader and segmented audiences in alignment with the workforce innovation lab strategies.

The KAYSC has offered a number of STEM Justice workshops for educators. Trane Technologies’ renewed support will allow the Science Museum to recruit and train additional staff to deliver this training to more people. At the same time, the company’s team members are working directly with leaders in the Center for Equity and Systems Change, observing and providing feedback on the training and supporting the translation of STEM Justice content into employer DEI strategies to increase recruitment and retention of BIPOC employees. Their ultimate goal is to retrofit the workshops for employer audiences, so that they may improve their interactions with schools, other education partners, and a future workforce that is more diverse and committed to collective liberation.. Trane Technologies and the KAYSC see this segmented training as a tool to break down barriers that STEM organizations face in their own pathways to hiring and retaining young and diverse STEM talent.