Altera formed the Altera Foundation in 2011 specifically to fund STEM-related organizations. The Altera Foundation has already committed $595,000 to several STEM-specific awards from October 2012 to December 2013 alone. The foundation is built on the belief that innovation enables the betterment of individuals, communities, and society.
Adopted an elementary school: The Altera Foundation gave a $500,000 multiyear grant to establish Hughes Elementary in Santa Clara, Calif., as a technology-based learning environment for its 500 students and a technology center for the entire school district. Started In October 2012, the three-year program has outfitted classes with electronic SMART boards and provided curriculum training that allows teachers to pull in content from the Web using these boards. Because of the new way of teaching, the school has seen higher test success in math and science.
Fundraisers: In September 2013, Altera hosted its inaugural Altera Foundation Cup (AFC) for Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT), a non-profit organization that provides creative educational activities for teachers in STEM and other programs. RAFT serves 7,300 educators and 630,000 students each year in the Bay Area. The Altera Foundation Cup charity golf tournament in September and raised $30,000, with participation from executives, employees, partners, distributors, and customers. It will be an annual event.
Grants: In October 2013, the Altera Foundation awarded a $60,000, two-year grant to ALearn, a non-profit organization that supports math and college readiness programs. The grant was made specifically to support STEM programs in the San Jose Unified School District. The grant is still very new, but will be used to create a college-bound mindset and skill set among at-risk 6th and 7th grade students at Burnett and Hoover Middle Schools. It will do this by training teachers to use technology in teaching and by blending textbook and online learning and hands-on activities, incorporating a college readiness curriculum.
Supporting a school robotics team: In November 2013, the Altera Foundation awarded $5,000 to an Austin Texas robotics program at a public high school, the Austin Liberal Arts and Science Academy, to fund the 3D printer the team will use to create parts for the robots they build. Altera also has engineers located at its Austin corporate office location who will help the students in these efforts. The program requires high school students to visit schools in underprivileged areas to hold hands-on science and robotics mini-camps for those who might not otherwise be exposed to the greater career possibilities that science and math have to offer. Altera mentors used the 3D printer to make kits for the SMART Camp held this fall at Wooten Elementary School. The team is beginning to design their robots for the competitions that begin early next year.
Motivated employee volunteers: Altera employees have actively volunteered in more than 60 organizations, and play a role in supporting STEM education by giving their own time and money, which Altera matches. Last year, Altera employees conducted weekly tutoring with We Teach Science, connecting struggling math students with math-savvy employees with a web-based audio connection and interactive tablet. Results: Students in the program have improved their passing grades on standardized tests by 57% when compared to their peers who have not been tutored.
If you are interested in FIRST robotics, here is a story on EDN that talks about this year's FRC competition, where competitors have to complete their robot in a short time window. And, here's another story (shameless plug) that profiles the team my daughter competes with in FIRST Robotics FTC competition.
NI has also been involved with LEGO competitions, to the point where students use LabVIEW-based software to control robots. I recall an exhibit severalyears ago at the Boston Museum of Science on Lego Mindstorms.
Having witnessed the F.I.R.S.T. competions first-hand (sorry!), and as a mentor to Team 293 SPIKE, I would hands-down go with National Instruments. Their contributions to the electronic control and interface features on the robot challenges let high school students (and even some 8th-graders) gain the satisfaction, experience, and fun of creating a robot that they can control and be proud of.