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Greene Scholars Focuses on STEM Education in African American Community

The Greene Scholars, located in Santa Clara, is an African American foundation that devotes itself to education. The organization recently received a $10,000 grant.

The Jack and Jill of America Foundation, which awarded the grant, is a public organization that is devoted to health and wellness, education – including STEM and college preparation – and “building strong black families,” said Pier Blake, the Foundation’s Executive Director.

“Greene Scholars is a program that builds confidence and competence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in the youth of African ancestry in the heart of Silicon Valley,” Blake explained.


“Greene Scholars has a hands-on enrichment program in science and math that cultivates diversity in STEM careers,” Blake continued.

The organization has had over 20 years of success. For example, 100 percent of Greene Scholars graduate from high school and go to college, while 60% pursue a STEM major. They have completed over 1,700 science fair projects.

Since 2016, Greene Scholars has received over $170,000 in scholarships.

“The Jack and Jill Foundation has a very distinctive support, investing our dollars in programs that support African American children and youth,” Blake said when asked why the Greene Scholars was awarded the grant.

“Their science fair was particularly important to us. It was the 21st year of doing this science fair, which was an annual gathering of dedicated parents, and corporate and community volunteers to support and celebrate African American youth in grades 3-12.”

“We were very tactical and strategic in who those programs are. This program, specifically, was energized by the legacy of a black tech pioneer, Dr. Frank S. Greene,” Blake explained.

Greene, a scientist, was raised in a segregated society in the 1950s. Later, he became a part of the civil rights movement. In 1970, he earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Santa Clara University. Greene became the first African American to be an elected trustee at the university.

“The Greene Scholars program provides inspiration to innovation, and higher learning in the power of community to strengthen the next generation of African American students,” said Blake.

The Jack and Jill Foundation was founded in 1968 during the Civil Rights Movement. The Foundation recently celebrated its 55th anniversary in January.

For those interested in applying for a grant by the Foundation, Blake offers some advice and encouragement.

“Our pillar of health and wellness also includes mental health. Coming out of COVID and learning to live with COVID, a lot of our students and families have that mental health component where they’ve never really thought about it as mental health before,” Blake explained.

The Jack and Jill Foundation also devotes itself to building strong families.

“We have some programs where grandparents are raising their grandchildren and they have to learn, again, how to be an advocate for students in the world of technology,” said Blake.

“I encourage every nonprofit organization to look at our website, read about our grant focus areas, and connect with a Jack and Jill chapter in your town or metropolitan area. There are 260 chapters across the country in 26 states,” Blake said.


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