Western Engineering Outreach receives $275,000 for phase two of funding to expand digital literacy

Western Engineering News | July 30, 2019

After a successful year of digital literacy program delivery, Western Engineering Outreach is poised to expand its programs after having received $275,000 from Actua Canada, the national STEM outreach organization. On July 26, 2019, Actua announced that they received $12 million from the government of Canada for CanCode funding dedicated to building coding and digital skills in youth across Canada.

Western Engineering Outreach is a network member of Actua and shares its membership with 38 other STEM outreach programs across the country, who collectively reach over 250,000 youth and provide nearly 2 million hours of workshops, camps, and clubs each year. Actua Canada leads federal STEM outreach advocacy on behalf of its network members.

Western Engineering Outreach has been providing programs, camps, workshops and opportunities for youth to explore STEM for the last 29 years. Last year, Outreach provided programming for over 12,700 youth; over 3,000 more than the previous year. This year greater importance will also be set on providing digital literacy training to teachers through professional development camps that include a focus on coding.

The $275,000 in funding is $100,000 more than what was received last year and will act as a considerable enhancement for the delivery of free digital literacy programming. Currently, Western Engineering Outreach provides over 25 different programs including, summer camps, high school leadership programs and partnership programs with local organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of London. All the programs offered include some underpinning of digital skills development ranging anywhere from coding to building robots.

An important specification of the funding is its allocation to traditionally underrepresented groups such as young women and Indigenous Canadians. The grant will enrich Outreach’s existing programs run specifically for these minority groups. Presently, Outreach runs a number of programs developed to encourage women in engineering, like a mentorship program for girls who are matched with women currently studying engineering at Western, as well as hosting two Ontario-wide events as part of ONWiE; Go CODE Girl and Go ENG Girl.

Thanks to receiving initial CanCode funding last year and utilizing an Actua program called “InSTEM” Outreach is now able to reach 5 different indigenous communities including Chippewa of the Thames First Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames, Munsee-Delware Nation, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, and Six Nations.

With the previous funding from CanCode, Western Engineering Outreach was able to develop and implement programs within their local community. The increased funding will go towards scaling up Engineering Outreach’s community programming to reach even more youth in London and surrounding area with inspiring, hands-on coding and digital skills experiences.