Project Innovation Looks to Ignite Civic Engagement Statewide

By Julia Tolstrup

A whole lot of bright ideas are about to blossom thanks to the NBCUniversal Foundation’s Project Innovation, a recently launched grant program available in 11 key markets throughout the nation, including right here in the state of Connecticut.

The grant initiative is aimed at local nonprofit organizations supporting civic engagement, digital literacy, and STEM/STEAM youth programs. For Susan Tully, President and General Manager of NBC Connecticut, this new initiative is simply an extension of the long held values of the company.

NBC Connecticut has a long history of service to the community, and being contributors to that community is a focal point of our mission statement,” Tully said.

“Our annual initiatives include Clear the Shelters for pet adoption and Support Our Schools for teacher supplies. In 2017 we raised $175,000 for Red Cross hurricane disaster relief and hundreds of pints of blood. We are active members of our communities, and truly enjoy working together with our viewers and service groups.”

Within the first two years of Project Innovation, the program expects to award more than $5 million in grants to nonprofits throughout its nationwide market areas. Here in Connecticut, a total of $225,000 will be awarded between up to three nonprofits working within the designated fields.

Initiatives like this do more than just benefit the organizations receiving grant money and the people they serve. “NBC Connecticut is proud to be a conduit for innovative thinking as it relates to our communities,” Tully explained. “The community’s gain is a gain for all of us. When a program empowers, engages and supports someone who needs help, we all win.”

Guidelines within each category determine which nonprofits are eligible for grants, but all categories focus on media and technology as important components. STEM/STEAM programming must serve K-12 students by guiding them toward an understanding of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

Similarly, programs supporting digital literacy must engage in technology education, particularly pertaining to workforce training. Even in the civic engagement category, emphasis is placed on organizations helping build strong communities using technology and media.

By ensuring that these skills are available, it’s possible to shape future generations to be better equipped for whatever comes next in our increasingly digital world.

“We know that creative thinking and innovative concepts can be instrumental in improving and even changing the course of someone’s life. We support the good work done by local nonprofits, and our hope is that the award winners’ programs lead to positive change in the individuals whose lives they touch,” Tully says.

“These programs can empower a single parent, instill a desire for higher learning in a teenager, or provide basic work skills to an individual. The sky is the limit.”

If you think your nonprofit would be a good fit for a Project Innovation grant, visit the NBC Connecticut website for full eligibility requirements and application materials.

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