GEMS program receives $50,000 grant

From staff reports

GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science), under the sponsorship of Bridge Builders Community Foundations, has received a $50,000 grant from the Pittsburgh-based McElhattan Foundation to implement an impact study of the 25-year-old program designed to encourage girls to explore STEM education and career paths.

The study will be conducted in partnership with Wellesley College’s National Institute on Out-of-School Time and will involve GEMS leaders and girls who have participated in Franklin area programs.

GEMS leaders and NIOST staff will be hosting events and contacting current and former GEMS members to interview them and survey them about their experiences.

“We are thrilled to be able to conduct research on the impact of GEMS programs,” said Laura Reasoner Jones, GEMS founder. “When I brought GEMS to Venango County in 2013, I was overjoyed at the response and the funding available through BBCF. We estimate that over 1,600 girls have been served through GEMS programs at the elementary and middle schools and through programs at the libraries,” she said.

As part of the grant process, McElhattan Foundation staff visited the GEMS clubs at Sandycreek Elementary School, where leaders Holly Johnson and Kim Shirey shared the robotics programs.

All elementary schools in the county and the Oil City Middle School have active GEMS programs. In addition, both Franklin and Oil City Libraries host afternoon and summer programs with the help of GEMS staff.