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Near & Far Aid Awards $10K Grant To Stamford's SoundWaters

SoundWaters educator Taylor Graham leads STEM Academy students in a discussion of animal adaptations.
SoundWaters educator Taylor Graham leads STEM Academy students in a discussion of animal adaptations. Photo Credit: Henry Jiang

STAMFORD, Conn. – Fairfield-based philanthropic group Near & Far Aid has awarded a $10,000 grant to SoundWaters Stamford in support of its STEM Academy.

SoundWaters’ STEM Academy provides hands-on, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming for underserved and low-performing students. Founded in 1989, SoundWaters is the premier environmental education organization focused on the protection of Long Island Sound and its watershed. Annually, SoundWaters hosts shipboard and land-based programs for 28,000 children, including 9,000 from underserved communities.

“Studies have shown that by the end of fifth grade, low-income children lose two months in reading achievement while student peers from wealthier backgrounds improve and can be as much as three grade levels ahead by middle school,” said SoundWaters President Leigh Shemitz. “Carefully designed, the SoundWaters STEM Academy helps to counter this ‘summer slide.’”

The first class of 30 STEM Academy students in 2014 made significant gains in math, reading and science, while also exploring and learning about the habitats of Long Island Sound. SoundWaters STEM Academy combines intensive study of math and reading with outdoor experiences over four consecutive weeks, offering practice and mastery in new skills. Each day consists of six hours of concentrated learning, hands-on, lab-based science sessions, engineering problem-solving and division and multiplication problems. With each lesson, the access to the Long Island Sound environment provides opportunities for students to reinforce skills and connect with their environment.

“Near & Far Aid is pleased for the opportunity to support SoundWaters and its critical STEM Academy as they use education for at-risk students to lay the foundation for lasting change in our communities,” said Joan Panagos, president of Near & Far Aid.

Near & Far Aid has a 60-year history in Fairfield County, and since 2000, has committed over $15 million to improve the lives of men, women and children suffering the effects of poverty.

SoundWaters works in partnership with individuals, schools, communities, businesses, civic organizations and other environmental and educational organizations to develop experiences that foster a sense of responsibility for the environment and encourage actions that ensure the sustainable future of the Long Island Sound ecosystem. 

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