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Toyota USA Foundation awards $500,000 grant to WKU for new project

WKU has been named the recipient of a nationally competitive $500,000 grant from the Toyota USA Foundation.

According to Dr. Sam Evans, Dean of WKU’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, the grant, to be awarded over three years, will help fund WKU’s Math and Technology Leadership Academy (MTLA) which aims to increase K-5 student interest and achievement in math and technology among high risk youth in the Bowling Green Enterprise Community, as well as other areas of Warren County.

“With a focus on student learning, this initiative will provide opportunities for educators to enhance their knowledge and skills relative to mathematics and technology as they develop and implement learning experiences for elementary age students in an environment that not only promotes student success but also prepares students for success in middle and high school settings and fosters interest in possible careers in these areas,” Dr. Evans said.

WKU will develop the MTLA by providing intense math and technology professional development to educators in order to strengthen their own skills, develop a national model for teacher preparedness and, in turn, increase student achievement in these areas. Professors from WKU’s Ogden College of Science and Engineering, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, and The Center for Gifted Studies will partner with representatives from Bowling Green Independent Schools, Warren County Public Schools and the Housing Authority of Bowling Green to develop unique, challenging experiences for the MTLA teachers and the students they serve.   In addition, the MTLA will aim to increase the number of diverse students qualifying for advanced math opportunities while encouraging family involvement through Math and Technology Community School events.

“We are very grateful for the generosity of the Toyota USA Foundation,” said WKU President Gary Ransdell. “Thanks to their support, WKU and its partners can move ahead in their efforts to make MTLA a reality.  By increasing the effectiveness of teacher leaders, we believe we can better engage young students and introduce them to new opportunities in math and technology.  At the outset, a total of 18 schools and nearly 9,000 students stand to benefit.  But over the long term, we believe the positive impact for families and communities will be far greater.”

“We’re proud to support WKU’s Math and Technology Leadership Academy and strongly believe in its mission to engage and increase achievement among young students in high-risk, diverse communities by developing teachers’ skills and experiences,” said Jim Wiseman, Group Vice President of Corporate Communications and Chief Communications Officer of Toyota Motor North America. “We are highly confident that the University’s partnership with area educators, school districts and the Housing Authority of Bowling Green will yield great results not just in Western Kentucky, but ultimately in communities across the country.”

Tom Hiles, WKU’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement, said WKU is pleased to be the recipient of this nationally competitive grant.  “The Toyota USA Foundation has a strong reputation of supporting innovative programs in mathematics and science across the country,” he said.  “Past recipients have included programs with the American Museum of Natural History, Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, Purdue, the National Geographic Foundation, Ohio State, Rice, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, and the University of Pennsylvania.  We are honored to be grouped with these prestigious groups and we look forward to beginning this new partnership with Toyota.”

About the Toyota USA Foundation: The Toyota USA Foundation is a $100 million charitable endowment created to support education programs serving kindergarten through 12th grade students and their teachers in the United States, with an emphasis on mathematics, science and environmental science.

Contact: Rick DuBose, WKU Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, (270) 745-4305, rick.dubose@wku.edu, or Rick Hesterberg, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc., (502) 868-2135, rick.hesterberg@tema.toyota.com.

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