Thanks to the support of the Anonymous Trust, NCSSM is better positioned to leverage its resources and partnerships to strengthen the STEM ecosystem in North Carolina’s eastern coastal plain.

In 2020-2021, the Trust awarded NCSSM a $100,000 grant to support the targeted expansion of NCSSM’s Step Up to STEM and Summer Accelerator programs into rural and underserved communities east of Interstate 95. The Trust also approved a challenge grant of $100,000 for 2022 and another for 2023 intended to leverage an additional $20,000 in giving from Eastern North Carolina donors each year. NCSSM successfully met the challenge for 2022 and anticipates doing so again in 2023.

In the first year of the grant, NCSSM offered seven scholarships to students participating in the targeted programs and brought on additional staff to help facilitate the expansion of the school’s outreach to North Carolina’s eastern region. With the help of these additional staff members, NCSSM was then able to secure a partnership with Elizabeth City State University to extend delivery of the Step Up to Stem summer camp program for eastern North Carolina students to the ECSU campus for summer 2022. The addition of up to 50 slots on ECSU’s campus could double the number of students served statewide.

“The Anonymous Trust focuses on rural and under-resourced communities in eastern North Carolina by working with partners who serve to understand needs and assets and work with them to help identify resources to build capacity, amplify results and engender hope,” says the Trust’s Margaret Turlington. “Having a son from the NCSSM class of 2011, I know experiences for rural eastern North Carolina students at NCSSM can be life-changing. These opportunities help expand young peoples’ lens on the world and expose them to more pathways for careers and life.”

With the Trust’s support, NCSSM was also able to establish a partnership with the Northeast Academy of Aerospace and Advanced Technologies (NEAAAT) Academy in Elizabeth City to develop a project-based curriculum unit for eighth-grade students for spring 2022. Underrepresented students from NEAAAT Academy who successfully complete the curriculum will automatically be eligible for (though must submit an enrollment request t0) the Step Up to STEM program at ECSU.

Another group participating in the effort is ENC STEM, an organization focused on increasing educational and career opportunities in STEM fields for students in high need schools in Eastern North Carolina. “Both NCSSM and the Anonymous Trust have existing relationships with the organization,” says Elaina Sabatine, ENC STEM’s Executive Director.

“We’ve been very fortunate to be supported by Anonymous Trust,” Sabatine says. “They have been instrumental in helping ENC STEM to maintain stability as we scaled our programming to include more counties in Eastern North Carolina. We’re excited to see how our continued partnerships with both Anonymous Trust and NCSSM can continue to serve more and more students across Eastern North Carolina.”

“Thanks to Anonymous Trust, ENC STEM has been able to bring the NCSSM experience that I cherished as a student to more across eastern North Carolina, from rigorous academic experiences to a feeling of accomplishment and community in a residential collegiate setting,” adds Grayson Cooper ’08, ENC STEM’s Co-Director. “We’re so grateful for their investment and impact on the program, school, and region.”

Jamie Lathan, NCSSM’s Vice Chancellor for Extended Learning, is excited about the opportunities for students made possible through the partnership. “NCSSM is so fortunate to work with Anonymous Trust as we strive to close education and opportunity gaps for K-12 students in eastern North Carolina, and as we seek to strengthen the pathways to STEM and advanced education for rural and underrepresented minority students.”