Comprehensive initiative aims to prepare youth for growth in Arizona science, technology, engineering, and math careers
Yearlong planning and months of construction will culminate on Monday, Nov. 16 with the opening of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s (BGCS) first Ellie & Michael Ziegler STEAM Makerspace Studio inside the Virginia G. Piper clubhouse.
Inside the Ellie & Michael Ziegler STEAM Makerspace Studio, Club members will take part in specialized Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) programming designed to provide immediate and exciting connections to real-world applications taking them beyond what is taught in the K-12 education system.
The Virginia G. Piper branch located within the Scottsdale Ranch neighborhood is the first of BGCS’s branch locations to undergo the buildout and will serve as a blueprint for the other seven as the youth development organization makes strides in fulfilling their comprehensive initiative to prepare youth for growth in Arizona science, technology and engineering careers.
Ellie and Michael Ziegler, community leaders and generous philanthropists, have invested $1.5 million in the BGCS STEAM initiative that will provide opportunities for upwards of 6,000 youth annually in kindergarten through 12th grade to explore and collaborate through programming and specialized activities using STEAM-related equipment including 3D printers, laser engravers, electronics, robotics, drones, and circuitry.
“These innovative state-of-the-art spaces encourage collaborative thinking to address tomorrow’s challenges,” said Ellie Ziegler. “Michael and I sought to fund a forward-thinking environment where youth are empowered to compete in a global marketplace, ultimately becoming college and career-ready change agents for the 21st century.”
Dr. Donna Jagielski was brought on to lead STEAM programming to ensure the success of the initiative. Dr. Jagielski holds an education doctorate in Leadership and Innovation from Arizona State University and has more than 12 years of experience in STEAM-based teaching, most recently serving as STEAM and Technology Integration Specialist for Maricopa Unified School District.
“It was important to Ellie and Michael—and to us—that the initiative was comprehensive and sustainable to grow and evolve with advances in technology,” said John Karolzak, BGCS Chief Operating Officer. “This initiative required not only cutting-edge spaces, but also equipment and programming that will inspire and engage our members. We are so grateful to the Zieglers for their leadership and generosity.”
In 2012, Ellie and Michael initiated the BGCS back to school shopping program to provide new clothes and shoes to youth and teens in need so that they could return to school with confidence, ready to learn. They continued funding, planning and helping kids shop for six years, inspiring community support and volunteering that has helped to keep the annual shopping event going strong.
In 2018, Ellie and Michael gave $1 million to complete safety and technical updates and a teen center refresh at the BGCS Vestar Branch in Desert Ridge. The Ellie & Michael Ziegler Teen Center at the Vestar Branch provides educational, leadership and healthy lifestyle programming as well as a safe place for more than 150 teens when school is out.
For more information about the STEAM Makerspace initiative or other Club programming, please call 480-344-5520 or visit www.bgcs.org.