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Dot Foods Takes STEM Support to New Heights with 3D Printer Donations to Illinois Schools

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Dot Foods, a company whose roots trace back to 1960, has significantly evolved over the years, not just in its business operations but also in its approach to community engagement and philanthropy. The latest chapter in Dot Foods’ charitable journey is marked by the launch of a new program aimed at bolstering science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, primarily in the Mount Sterling, Illinois, area, close to the company’s headquarters.

Educators opening their donated 3D printer equipment at a Focus on STEM training session. Image courtesy of Dot Foods.

The “Focus on STEM” initiative launched in May and is designed to provide professional development opportunities for educators and to grant local schools the necessary resources to enhance their STEM programs. An initial investment of $50,000 in grants by Dot Charitable marked the beginning of this venture, alongside an interactive LEGO session dedicated to training teachers in integrating computer science into their classrooms.

Dot Foods Kevin Johnson and Wesley Koehler deliver 3D printer donation at Franklin school in Illinois. Image courtesy of Dot Foods via Flickr.

In its latest move, Dot Foods has donated 3D printers to 13 area school districts. This generous provision also includes training sessions for teachers to effectively use 3D printing technology in their educational plans. Upcoming training sessions will introduce drones, adding another dimension to the practical learning tools available to schools. The Learning Technology Center of Illinois (LTC), a state agency offering technological support to schools, has been instrumental in this process. Their collaboration with Dot Charitable has earned them a Collaboration Award, recognizing the successful partnership in enhancing STEM education.

Some of the schools taking part in the program are Brown County Middle School and St. Mary School in Mount Sterling, Pikeland School District in Pittsfield, Beardstown High School, Griggsville-Perry Elementary and High School, Meredosia-Chambersburg High School, Franklin and schools in Dallas City, Camp Point, Payson, Augusta, and Quincy.

Becky Moran and Nathan Nelson from school in Dallas City, Illinois receive Dot Foods’ 3D printer donation. Image courtesy of Dot Foods via Flickr.

The expansion of the “Focus on STEM” program is on Dot Foods’ horizon, with plans to enable charitable committees at their distribution centers to support local schools as well.

Dot Foods’ efforts in supporting STEM education and various other charitable activities are shared via its LinkedIn post, which states: “What do LEGO kits, 3D printers, and drones have in common? They’re all part of our Focus on STEM program to support STEM education in the Mount Sterling, Illinois, area. In our first year of the program, we’ve awarded $50,000 in grants and held training sessions for teachers with the help ofthe Learning Technology Center. Discover more about Focus on STEM projects as well as other charitable activities across our locations in our latest charitable update.”

Through the “Focus on STEM” initiative and funding, Dot Foods provides professional learning in a hands-on environment where participants actively learn about the devices and software to implement in the classroom, as well as grant support to help fund in-district curriculum development and integration. Many of the participating districts, which contain students from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, would not have had access to these learning opportunities without this program. The company estimates that over 700 students were impacted by the program in 2023.

Stephanie Wilcox and McKenzie Allison from Southeastern Augusta school in Illinois receive Dot Foods 3D printer donation. Image courtesy of Dot Foods via Flickr.

In addition to the STEM-focused initiatives, Dot Foods has been actively involved in various other charitable activities across its locations. For example, the “Neighbor to Neighbor” program engages in deliveries to support area food pantries, and Dot Foods contributes to the “It’s Okay Campaign,” supporting the mental health of women of color. The holiday season even witnessed an increased effort by Dot Foods to help combat hunger in the Illinois area.

In North America, Dot Foods’ main competitors, including UNFI, Performance Food Group, US Foods, Gordon Food Service, Sysco, and McLane Company, are also actively engaged in a variety of charitable activities. These companies have demonstrated a strong commitment to community support, primarily focusing on hunger relief and general philanthropy. While their efforts include donations and initiatives aimed at addressing food insecurity, healthcare, and education within their respective communities, we have not found any specific indication of these competitors being involved in STEM-related charitable donations, such as providing 3D printers or similar technology-focused resources to schools or educational institutions. This difference highlights Dot Foods’ unique approach in combining philanthropy with a focus on advancing STEM education.

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