Solve for Tomorrow: Samsung and DonorsChoose
What if every classroom in America could turn students into creative problem solvers—future engineers, scientists, and inventors? That question is at the heart of Samsung Solve for Tomorrow, a partnership between Samsung and DonorsChoose, which recognizes that early exposure to engaging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning is key to developing the next generation.
Solve for Tomorrow encourages innovative thinking, creative problem-solving, and teamwork through a nationwide competition that empowers students in grades 6-12 to address the most pressing issues affecting society, and to boost interest and proficiency in STEM. The program invites teachers to work with students to identify a STEM-based solution for addressing an issue in their local or national community. DonorsChoose is a nonprofit organization focused on allowing teachers to request resources that their students need most through an online platform where donors can choose which classroom projects they’d like to support.
COVID-19 presented fresh challenges and opportunities for Solve For Tomorrow, a program that has existed since 2010. School closures and social distancing made it difficult for students and teachers to meet the criteria. So the program shifted to become more understanding of the circumstances facing applicants and the competition gave students and teachers an exciting project to focus on in the midst of an otherwise challenging school year.
This year, winning teams were invited to present at the national Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Pitch Event, where selected participants were awarded $15,000 to $100,000 to use toward Samsung technology and other learning resources. Teachers can now use DonorsChoose to “shop” for their prize package, selecting resources from any of the 24 DonorsChoose vendors.
This year, during the pandemic, Samsung extended the fulfillment date for all the prize packages to accommodate school closings and teachers in need of more time. DonorsChoose worked with vendors to ship resources to schools, providing white glove customer support.
Because of its partnership with DonorsChoose, Samsung has been able to extend its commitment to STEM programs, creating the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Teacher Academy with another DonorsChoose partner—MindSpark, which has provided more than 100 teachers across the US with a combined 6,000 hours of professional development and collaborative experiences.
Three hundred state finalists were awarded a Samsung Tablet for their classroom. Eighty state winners received $15,000 and a video kit with Samsung technology to help them bring their project video to life. Fifteen national finalists received $50,000 and five National Winners received $100,000. The Community Choice winner, selected by public voting, received an additional $10,000. DonorsChoose worked with each of these 100 teachers to fulfill their prize packages, providing directions and support for using DonorsChoose.