The Circle Program recently received a generous renewed grant of $7,000 from the Lincoln Financial Foundation to support several STEM experiential learning projects. The projects are being developed to encourage girls and teens from low-income families to pursue careers in the non-traditional fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. More specifically, this grant allows the Circle Program to expand its current STEM curriculum while offering girls new opportunities to explore and multiply their options as they set goals for life after high school.
Lincoln Financial Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Lincoln Financial Group, is dedicated to empowering youth to reach their potential by living better lives through educational initiatives that promote positive change. The grant is part of Lincoln Financial Foundation’s annual $10 million investment in its local communities’ youth education, economic and workforce development, human well-being, and arts programs.
The girls who are referred to the Circle Program have been recognized for their great potential, but have lacked the opportunities and resources to develop that potential. In this regard, the Circle Program shares a synchronicity of purpose with the Lincoln Financial Foundation. Our program promotes positive change by preparing our Circle girls and teens to attain the skills they need to become attractive to employers, so they will be able to compete and succeed in the job market and reach their full potential.
Local New Hampshire companies have often complained that the high school graduates that apply for jobs are lacking the skills they need for success in the field. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 10% of US jobs require some type of degree in a STEM field. These jobs pay close to double the US average. By offering Circle girls new opportunities to explore STEM, they can rise above their family’s current low-income status and be better prepared to attain a job that pays a living wage.
As the Circle Program creates plans for its camp and mentoring programs in 2018, new activities and STEM curriculum will take an interdisciplinary approach to design/pattern recognition, astronomy and the study of nature. Simple and fun 45-minute lab experiments will introduce a variety of new concepts in these areas while aligning with the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. Most of the labs will take place during Circle Camp when there is concentrated time for the counselors to work with the girls, however, during the school year, the staff and mentors will follow up with the girls during educational field trips and workshops.
New activities will include several collaborations with the Squam Lakes Science Center. The girls and teens will learn more about nocturnal animals, predators, field and forest ecology and osprey tracking. The girls will also take a trip to Plymouth State University’s Mark Sylvestre Planetarium to enhance their study of the stars and constellations during camp. Design concepts will include recognition of repetitive patterns in nature, and opportunities to create visual designs or design a personal fashion statement. In each STEM field studied, girls will consider careers that align with these concepts.
The Circle Program is a non-profit organization with a mission to provide girls from low income families with new opportunities to develop the skills, courage and confidence they need to handle the challenges in their lives. Circle does this by offering girls a unique combination of adult and peer support delivered through residential summer camp and year-round mentoring programs. Currently, over 90 Circle Girls and Circle Teens are participating in the program, coming from 32 towns in central and northern New Hampshire including the Greater Concord, Plymouth and Laconia areas. The girls are referred to the Circle Program by teachers and guidance counselors as they enter the fifth grade. Once enrolled, the girl can remain in the Circle Program until she graduates from high school.
With renewed support from Lincoln Financial Foundation, the Circle Program can offer girls curriculum that delivers the greatest possible depth of service so they can learn to thrive. As they employ mathematical reasoning and abstract, improve their writing and communication skills, consider ethics as they make decisions, and refine their approach to precision and detail, they will learn the life skills they need to succeed while increasing their social, emotional and cultural competencies.