Accessing STEM Education: CRSF and Exelon’s Transformative Partnership

By Lily Baughan

April 25, 2024

Amidst a landscape of innovation and inspiration, the grand opening of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation's 500th STEM Center marks a milestone not only in access to STEM education in underserved communities but in the empowerment of future generations. In 2016, we launched the Foundation’s STEM Initiative to provide under-resourced elementary and middle school youth in disadvantaged neighborhoods the opportunity to participate in STEM activities. Today, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation has 502 fully operational, turnkey STEM programs in 23 states and D.C., as well as 21 district-wide public-school systems, impacting over 212,000 kids with the help of over 11,000 teachers/educators/mentors.

cal stemTo celebrate the occasion, the Ripken Foundation held a ribbon cutting ceremony at Lansdowne Middle School, which also signified the continuation of a transformative partnership with the Exelon Foundation. In 2024, the Ripken Foundation received a generous $3 million gift from Exelon to open 81 STEM Centers in areas around Atlantic City, NJ; Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; Philadelphia, PA; Wilmington, DE; and Washington, D.C. This 500th STEM Center opening was the first completed Exelon-sponsored Ripken Foundation STEM Center is this 81 STEM Center initiative. The ribbon cutting ceremony included guest speakers Cal Ripken, Jr., co-founder of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, and Calvin Butler, President and CEO of Exelon and Ripken Foundation Board member. “This is all about providing resources that will help kids learn,” said Cal. “It’s hard to believe that we have opened 500 STEM Centers across the country. This is only accomplished through strong partnerships, and Calvin and Exelon are partners and friends. Their generosity makes a real difference in so many communities nationwide.”  Ripken Foundation President and CEO Steve Salem echoed Cal’s sentiment, stating “We are overjoyed to continue our relationship with Exelon under Calvin’s leadership. Their generous gift symbolizes a commitment to provide a cohesive STEM education program that we know will make a difference.”

After the celebration, students participated in STEM demonstrations in the new space. “Having this new STEM Center will mean a lot to students going to high school and to the ones coming elementary school because it will give them new learning experiences,” said 8th grade student Da’Sheyll. Each Ripken STEM Center is fully equipped with technology and furniture packages, educational STEM products with activities, age-appropriate Ripken Foundation STEMcalvin stem curricula, STEM program training for educators, ongoing program and technical support, and the opportunity to participate in the Ripken Foundation National STEM Challenge.

This landmark achievement is not just a celebration of a new Center, it's a testament to Exelon and the Ripken Foundation’s unwavering commitment towards fostering excellence in STEM education. Access to quality STEM education ensures that all students, regardless of socioeconomic background, have equal opportunities to pursue careers in high-demand fields. “We know the value of students gaining knowledge, skills, and confidence in the areas of coding and engineering, which are particularly important to us in the energy industry,” said Butler. “We are thrilled to partner with CRSF and help develop the next generation of STEM experts and the future energy workforce.” He continued, “As one of a few handfuls of African American CEOs across the nation, my job while sitting in this seat is to encourage young people that they can do this,” said Butler.

As this transformative partnership continues to unfold over the next three years, the ripple effect of its 81 STEM Centers will not only enrich the lives of each individual student, but also uplift entire communities, laying the foundation for a brighter, more equitable future for generations to come.