Daisy Garcia Montoya 
Education Reporter

Stems on the Vines, a local nonprofit organization, received a $10,000 grant through the Spectrum Digital Education program. The award was presented to the organization on Wednesday, January 31, at the Latinx Education Collaborative during a press conference with Spectrum.

The organization, which focuses on providing students with opportunities to participate and learn through STEMS (science, technology, engineering, math, sustainability) approaches, was one out of 46 nonprofit organizations across 14 states that were chosen to receive a 2023 Spectrum Digital Education grant.

Since its inception in 2017, Spectrum’s Digital Education Grant has distributed more than $9 million total to nonprofits across the country with a total of more than $187,000 contributed to various nonprofits in the Kansas City area. 

“Today we are here to celebrate Stems on the Vines and the amazing work they do in the community by bringing digital education opportunities on the road to enhance learning opportunities,” said Bill Loventinsky, Vice President of Spectrum Mobile Call Center. “This award will help the organization support our community through its many valuable programs such as their SotB STEM lab and other classes that are focused on helping locals improve their digital education. Best of luck as you continue to pivot and increase digital education and access to those who need it.”

With the funding, Stems on the Vines will purchase new technology and equipment to support its Mobile STEM Lab, which travels to students and provides them access to equipment such as tablets, 3D printers with CAD, chromebooks, wifi hotspots and more. 

At the award presentation, Mayor Quinton Lucas was also in attendance and shared a few words to the awardees. 

“Seeing the opportunity and the need in our community and making sure we are teaching so many services including coding, helping us bridge the digital divide. Also making sure that as we are talking about all the growth in Kansas City and everything in our community, that there is no neighborhood that is left out, no community that is left out. I appreciate you understanding that and pushing that,” Mayor Lucas said. 

Imani Malaika-Mehta, CEO of Stems on the Vines said that due to a partnership with the Latinx Education Collaborative, the organization has been able to spread its services and programming to schools that include students representing 22 countries, speaking 16 different languages. 

With the new funding, the organization hopes to not only provide new offerings to students but also expand to include adult digital literacy classes. 

“Imani and I are in talks to hopefully provide STEM tutoring for those students. We are thinking of creative ways, being flexible but we need that money to be able to fund those opportunities for our students,” said Ivan Ramirez, Digital Experience Director with the Latinx Education Collaborative and Revolucion Educativa. “While parents are learning in computer classes and how to use a laptop, students can receive that STEM tutoring during that time.” 

Len Nevels, Stems on the Vines board member, gave the closing remarks during the press conference and stated the importance of eliminating the digital divide in the Kansas City community and coming together to ensure that no one is left behind.

“We want to make sure our children come together collectively and be prepared to meet the new business and things that are coming to Kansas City. We want them to be prepared to thrive in those jobs and opportunities but most importantly we want to come together as a growing community working together,” Nevels said. “It’s important to have these type of collaborative opportunities to make Kansas City grow.”