News | August 20, 2015


$1.1 million grant will help develop more STEM teachers

2 - minute read

The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation has awarded a $1.1 million grant to Florida Gulf Coast University to help address the critical need for more teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in Southwest Florida.

The funds to be paid over five years will support three alternative pathways for educating teachers: scholarships for undergraduate STEM majors who minor in education and agree to teach for at least two years after graduating; training for established STEM professionals who choose to teach; intensive summer in-service workshops to help current teachers improve their competence and confidence in STEM education.

Education is a key philanthropic priority of the Schulze Family Foundation, which was established by Richard M. “Dick” Schulze, the founder and chairman emeritus of Best Buy Co. Inc., the world’s largest multi-channel, consumer-electronic retailer. The family is especially concerned about the current performance of U.S. elementary, middle and secondary school students in comparison to their international peers, according to Foundation President and CEO Mark Dienhart.

“Southwest Florida, we are told, is experiencing difficulty in producing the number of high-quality teachers in STEM fields that are needed to provide the rigorous educational experience that the Schulze family and the foundation board believe students deserve,” he said. “This pilot grant is intended to provide FGCU, an important player in teacher preparation in Florida, with an opportunity to decrease the debt load some students face that almost necessarily sends them into professions other than education while all along they might have preferred teaching as a career.”

Christopher Simoneau, Vice President for Advancement and Executive Director of the FGCU Foundation, said the university shares the Schulze foundation’s commitment to develop highly qualified STEM teachers for K-12 students in Southwest Florida.

“Doing so will increase the United States’ competitiveness in this critical area, adequately prepare students for higher education and help them to be productive members of society,” Simoneau said. “We are grateful to the Schulze Family Foundation for making this investment at Florida Gulf Coast University.”

In the last four years, FGCU has increased the number of STEM degrees awarded by 74 percent, the highest rate of growth in the State University System.

The FGCU Foundation supports the university’s educational mission by securing and administering gifts on its behalf, managing its endowment and allocating funds that advance student achievement and enhance academic programs. For more information, call (239) 590-1067 or go to the website.

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