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March 08, 2018

Disney celebrates 'Black Panther' success by funding STEM program in Philly, beyond

The company is donating $1 million overall to underserved areas in 12 cities

Education Black Panther
"Black Panther" trailer Marvel Entertainment/"Black Panther" trailer/YouTube

"Black Panther" could become the first superhero movie nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards.

In celebration of the record-breaking success of "Black Panther," the Walt Disney Company is donating $1 million to the Boys & Girls Club of America

The money will help expand Boys & Girls Clubs of America's youth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs and support high-tech skills that were not only a major theme in the movie's plot, but are essential in helping youths succeed.
It will help bolster STEM offerings in 12 communities across the country, including here in Philadelphia, according to the company's chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger.

"Marvel Studios' 'Black Panther' is a masterpiece of moviemaking, and has become an instant cultural phenomenon, sparking discussion, inspiring people young and old, and breaking down age-old industry myths," Iger said in a statement. 

"It is thrilling to see how inspired young audiences were by the spectacular technology in the film, so it's fitting that we show our appreciation by helping advance underserved areas of the country, to give them the knowledge and tools to build the future they want," he continued.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America will use this one-time grant to further develop its existing national STEM curriculum, and establish new STEM Centers of Innovation for Youth

In addition to Philadelphia, the curriculum and new centers will serve (and, ideally, inspire) kids and teens in Atlanta; Baltimore; Chicago; Harlem (New York City); Hartford, CT; Memphis, TN; New Orleans; Oakland, CA; Orlando, FL; Washington, DC and the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles.

"Thanks to Disney's support, we can expand our outreach and allow more youth to find their passions and discover STEM careers." -- Jim Clark, BGCA

Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Centers of Innovation provide youth with hands-on, advanced technologies that stimulate creative approaches to STEM exploration, including 3-D printers, robotics, high-definition video production and conferencing equipment. 

In addition, a fully dedicated STEM expert will offer individual and group support, using real-world applications to help club members develop their STEM skills and critical thinking.

"From hands-on interactive programs to critical thinking, Boys & Girls Clubs of America is committed to providing thousands of young people with the tools they need to prepare for a great future," said Jim Clark, BGCA's president and CEO. "Thanks to Disney's support, we can expand our outreach and allow more youth to find their passions and discover STEM careers."

Joseph Marziello, who along with Lisabeth Marziello is CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia, said he is happy that Philly is one of the cities being assisted by Disney.

"We're excited, of course," he told PhillyVoice. "We hope to have the details in a couple weeks. But, of course, this is great news and we're grateful and thankful to Disney.

"Black Panther seems to be a movie everyone seems to like and all I can say is I hope it keeps going."