#STEMSpotlight: Connected Lane County

#STEMSpotlight: Connected Lane County

What’s the name of your organization? Connected Lane County

What’s your name and title? Heidi Larwick, Executive Director

In which city (or cities) is your organization located? We are based in Eugene, Oregon, and serve all of Lane County.

What are the ages and demographics of youth you work with? Our work impacts all Lane County youth from pre-Kindergarten through age 24. Our primary focus is to support youth between the ages of 14-24 who identify as BIPOC, rural, low income, she/her/they/them, and unhoused, by equipping them with the tools to help them gain confidence in their abilities and see value in their decisions.

Describe your organization and its mission. Connected Lane County is a nonprofit that focuses on improving student success for historically underserved youth in Lane County. At Connected Lane County, we are committed to creating a safe and equitable learning environment for all youth. Youth in our programs represent a wide variety of backgrounds and identities including racial, ethnic, linguistic, diverse ability, neurodiversity, sexual identity, religious, socio-economic, housing, and family status. We want every youth that participates in our programs to experience a sense of belonging.

We focus on STEM, Career Connected Learning, Early Literacy, and education and workforce re-engagement. In July 2021, we opened a new space in downtown Eugene called SparkLab. SparkLab is a place where community, education, and industry come together to support Lane County youth in invention, education, and career-connected learning.

What are the short and long-term goals for your organization? Short term, we are focused on increasing the number of underrepresented youth our programs serve and being more intentional about our partnerships to ensure that community partners' values align with our educational equity approach.

Long term, we hope to create satellite SparkLab locations and create an Elevate youth center to support our youth with more frequent, expansive services

How can TAO and community members support your work? We encourage TAO and the community to follow us on social media, sign up for our newsletter, and share our story. We're always looking to build relationships with community members interested in mentoring students through our mentorship program or during student showcase events, business partners interested in hosting students for job shadows or internships, and donors or sponsors to support our programs. Please contact us at info@connectedlane.org to learn more or visit our website at connectedlane.org/donate to show your support.

This blog post is part of an awareness campaign about organizations working to advance STEM education opportunities for Oregon youth. A big thank you to Oregon Community Foundation for supporting STEM education!

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