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Partners in STEM

Sponsor Spotlight: Overdeck Family Foundation

Founded in 2011 by John and Laura Overdeck, Overdeck Family Foundation seeks to provide all children the opportunity to unlock their potential. To advance their mission, they support research and organizations that create opportunities for children across the country by measurably enhancing education both inside and outside the classroom.

Last year, Overdeck Family Foundation generously supported the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Camp Invention® and Club Invention® programs, including opportunities for children in need of financial support to experience these innovative, hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) enrichment programs.

Read below to learn more about this exciting partnership and about the Foundation’s ongoing mission to support transformative STEM programs.


Unlocking the Potential of Children Everywhere

In an interview with NIHF, Gemma Lenowitz, program officer for the Inspired Minds portfolio at Overdeck Family Foundation, explained that the Foundation’s funding decision was based on NIHF’s programming showing statistically significant impacts on creativity, STEM interest and STEM skills for diverse students in grades K-6 and the organization’s ability to deliver these interventions at scale. The Foundation also aligns with NIHF’s focus on providing impactful STEM programming to underserved children, and the organization’s commitment to maintaining the quality of its programming using research and data.

“Research shows NIHF programs result in statistically significant improvements in creativity, STEM interest and problem-solving skills,” Lenowitz said. “That impact translates to school, where students increase attendance, improve test scores and increase average GPA.”

With more than 30 years of experience developing innovative STEM programming, NIHF has continued to evolve and innovate its curriculum. For Camp Invention in particular, each summer’s activities are different from the previous year. This spirit of continuous innovation proved essential last year, when COVID-19 created the need for at-home camp and afterschool programs.

“When COVID-19 limited in-person programming, Camp Invention quickly adapted to offer resources by mail to pair with video instruction,” Lenowitz said.

Lenowitz also shared that programs like Club Invention, NIHF’s afterschool STEM program, are important in boosting students’ curiosity.

“Children’s time outside of school should be spent cultivating curiosity, which is what the best STEM experiences are designed to do,” Lenowitz said. “Afterschool experiences can almost double the amount of time some students have to explore STEM, especially children from historically marginalized communities.”


Exposure to Innovative STEM Role Models

Part of what makes NIHF’s education programs special is that they are inspired by the lessons and stories of our Inductees, innovators who are leading experts in STEM fields and whose contributions have helped shape society.

Research from Opportunity Insights, a nonprofit research organization out of Harvard University and also funded by Overdeck Family Foundation, has found that exposure to innovation at an early age significantly increases a student’s likelihood to innovate into adulthood. In keeping with these findings, part of NIHF’s mission is to inspire the next generation of innovators by sharing with them lessons from our Inductees — individuals who are leaders in their fields.

“Simply put, it’s very hard to be what you cannot see,” Lenowitz said. “Our future depends on innovation in medicine, energy, agriculture and other fields, and we know that exposure to STEM not only changes a child’s understanding of their identity but impacts their learning and career trajectory.”


Learn More About Overdeck Family Foundation

We would like to sincerely thank Overdeck Family Foundation for their support and belief in NIHF’s mission and the impact of our programming. To learn more about the Foundation’s incredible work and the difference they make in the lives of children each year, please visit their website.


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