Education and prosperity for all
This September, ATB is teaming up with MindFuel to support access to STEM education in Alberta
By ATB Financial 8 September 2022 3 min read
September 8, 2022 - As part of ATB’s Greater Good strategy, ATB is focused on improving access to education in Alberta for community members of all ages. Increased access to educational programs, tools and resources can have a profound impact on Albertans and their communities.
Thankfully, there are non-profits like MindFuel that dedicate time and resources to building (and rebuilding) access to education here in our province.
What is MindFuel?
MindFuel is an education technology leader that brings STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to life, both inside and outside the K-12 classroom. MindFuel’s award-winning programs and products inspire a passion for STEM Alberta’s in youth, helping them to positively shape Canada’s future by becoming innovative workers, leaders and problem-solvers of tomorrow.
“MindFuel has a strong commitment toward advancing a passion for STEM in youth, which aligns well with ATB’s efforts to enable access to education for all Albertans,” says ATB’s Managing Director of Social Innovation, David Wighton. “The program is also contributing to the development of a growth mindset. That’s something we also really value at ATB - we view it as the necessary foundation to future success.”
In recent years, ATB has supported MindFuel’s Tech Futures Challenge, which provides the chance for middle school, high school & post-secondary student teams to focus on solving real-world problems. Through this program, MindFuel provides these youth with project funding, skills-building workshops, and mentorship support in emerging STEM fields, such as synthetic biology, nanotechnology, robotics and coding. And that is imperative to the prosperity of the province as a whole, says Wighton.
“STEM skills are commonly forecasted to be critical, and are reflected in the space where we see growth and innovation - I think of Apple, Tesla, and SpaceX,” he explains. “We know that solving real-world problems rarely relies on just one discipline, but STEM is a great pathway towards progress.”
Why is STEM learning important?
According to Cassy Weber, CEO of MindFuel, STEM innovation drives economic development and prosperity and creates demand for a knowledge-based workforce. Youth build confidence through STEM programming - something Weber says helps them understand that prosperity isn’t just for the privileged - it’s for everyone.
“When we invest in youth innovation development, we are ultimately creating a sustainable youth talent pipeline, which is critical to any thriving society,” says Weber. “Through our programming they develop self-efficacy, which helps them understand that the prosperity tools they are developing are not restricted to people of privilege. Anyone can be successful.”
To that end, MindFuel has been a pioneer in building the youth innovation pipeline in Canada. Over the past decade, they have supported more than 4,300 Alberta youth through extra-curricular programming, and delivered more than 300 STEM innovation projects, six of which have become Alberta-based tech start-ups.
More than 30 years of experience in the youth STEM innovation industry has given Cassy and her MindFuel team the expertise and experience to develop high-impact programs with industry-leading experts.
“We understand how to reach youth who are economically disadvantaged, newcomers, Indigenous, females in STEM, or living in rural and remote areas. By making programming accessible to these typically under-represented populations, we are cultivating a diversified talent pipeline,” adds Weber.
How can you get involved?
Research shows around 85 per cent of skills and learning development happens outside of a formal classroom setting. MindFuel encourages all Albertans to expand their STEM horizons by engaging in the fun world of science and technology. If you know someone between the ages of five and 25, invite them to visit MindFuel.ca.
In addition to access to education, ATB’s Greater Good strategy also seeks to move the province forward in the areas of Access to Mental Health Supports and Access to Information and Communication. You can learn more about ATB’s Greater Good strategy here.