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Grantee Spotlight: The Franklin Institute

Grantee Spotlight - Frankling Institute Graphic

DLFF has been proud to support the Franklin Institute for eight years. From the STEM Scholars (the Institute’s philanthropy-funded education program for high school students) to its annual Awards Ceremony and Dinner and the master plan for the Institute’s third century, DLFF partners with the Institute to inspire a passion for science and technology within individuals of all ages. That partnership extends beyond grant support, as DLFF Founder Tom Lynch was most recently named Chair of the Board of Trustees at the the Franklin Institute.

The Franklin Institute aims to unleash potential within the 818,000 visitors that walk through its doors each year and the 80 students part of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Scholars program. Through its museum experience and educational programming, the Institute shows visitors and students that – no matter their background, race, or gender – science can be for them, they belong in the science and technology world, and a STEM career is within their grasp.

DLFF’s impact on the STEM program can be seen through the work of the STEM students. Not only does the STEM program help students continue to work on something they are passionate about, but also provide them with a vast network of people who are established in the STEM career field. 

The Institute’s STEM Scholars program prepares students for a range of post-secondary options and careers in STEM. During weekly workshops, students develop vital skills in public speaking, critical thinking, computing, team management, research and laboratory learning, leadership development, financial management, and community service.

The Franklin Institute is a highly anticipated field trip destination for 200,000 students every year. Research shows that an interest in science and technology doubles with each visit someone makes to a science center such as the Institute, and an interest in STEM before the age of 14 is predictive of later curricular and career choices.

Given the positive impact that visits have on increasing interest in science, the Institute works to be a place where education, experiences, and engagement opportunities around STEM are more equitable and accessible. This goes hand in hand with DLFF and its mission of unleashing potential, in helping to provide well-rounded and accessible education to students. DLFF’s support enables the Institute to subsidize each student ticket, with 32,000 students from Title 1 schools able to visit for free.

Also supported by DLFF is the Institute’s master plan Mission: Wow!, which will completely reimagine the Institute’s museum experience and exhibits. The master plan will propel the Institute’s iconic educational and cultural reach into the 21st century, taking immersion, imagination, and impact to a new level. A transformed Institute will increase interest and curiosity in STEM through dynamic learning environments and exploratory educational experiences.

For three decades, the Institute’s youth programs have been helping to unleash the potential of students across inner-city Philadelphia. Hundreds of impressive, brilliant, and creative students have passed through STEM Scholars. Below is just one student’s story—

During the 2023 STEM Scholars graduation ceremony, Leilani – who was once a part of the Institute’s middle school program PACTS and, on the coattails of her siblings, started the program while still in elementary school – gave a short address, which was heartfelt and full of love for her friends, the program, and program leaders. She said: 

“A high school diploma is very important, but the people, connections, and skills learned over the last nine years are some things that cannot be taught in a high school classroom… High school was high school, but I knew that I could leave that there and come here and feel like who I am was not just accepted but celebrated.”

It is because of generous donors like DLFF that the STEM Scholars program exists and that students like Leilani graduate feeling STEM-capable, having made professional connections, are going to schools such as Tufts University. 

The design and content of the space science exhibit was informed by the Institute’s core constituents, including students from the STEM Scholars program. Desiring to unleash the potential of its visitors, the Institute believes that these students need to be key stakeholders. To this end, the five other exhibits will undergo a similar process, with students participating in design workshops.

The Institute is committed to infusing the region with dynamic educational and cultural opportunities and making awe-inspiring, authentic encounters with science and technology more inclusive and accessible. The Institute’s philanthropic partners help make the Institute experience available to all, including students and families within our community who could not afford it otherwise.

About the Franklin Institute
In the spirit of inquiry and discovery embodied by Benjamin Franklin, the mission of The Franklin Institute is to inspire a passion for learning about science and technology. To learn more, visit https://www.fi.edu/en

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