Eastern Michigan University to establish new STEM Institute in collaboration with Toyota’s Driving Possibilities initiative and community school districts

Eastern’s College of Education to be at forefront of five-year plan to create new opportunities in STEM careers

COE dean Ryan Gildersleeve at a press event for Toyota's new STEM Institute at EMU
Pictured above left to right: Alena Zachery-Ross, Ypsi Community Schools superintendent; Robert Jansen, Lincoln Consolidated Schools superintendent; Ryan Gildersleeve, COE dean; and Naomi Norman, Washtenaw Intermediate School District superintendent.

YPSILANTI (June 8, 2023) – To keep up with the growing popularity of STEM occupations, Eastern Michigan University was selected by Toyota’s Driving Possibilities initiative to collaborate with Lincoln Consolidated and Ypsilanti Community Schools, both part of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, on an initiative to prepare youth for in-demand science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.

group at toyota event

Toyota’s Driving Possibilities initiative is investing nearly $10 million over the next five years in southeast Michigan. The initial funds will be distributed between two community partners, including EMU’s College of Education for a newly created STEM Institute. The institute, led by EMU and governed by its partners, integrates applied research with outreach and curricula. It will serve as a hub of resources to strengthen the STEM experience in Washtenaw and surrounding communities.

“This transformational investment by Toyota USA Foundation allows EMU’s College of Education to establish the infrastructure that will sustainably strengthen our community's STEM cultural wealth and afford novel opportunities for collaboration among educators, schools, community organizations, and regional businesses to support students at all levels – from pre-kindergarten to post-secondary,” said Ryan Gildersleeve, dean of EMU’s College of Education. Gildersleeve said this model, which centers on the community, is rarely seen across academia.

Eastern’s community-focused STEM Institute will serve as a hub to deploy STEM resources to and from the school districts and three institutions of higher learning in the area. In addition to EMU, faculty members from the University of Michigan College of Engineering and Washtenaw Community College will serve as educational and subject matter experts to create new learning opportunities for teachers, students, and families across the community.

group of lincoln consolidated and ypsi schools at event

“Through powerful learning experiences, we are excited to build on the commitments from our local school district partners to ensure student success in STEM education to prepare them for future careers,” said Eastern Michigan University President James Smith. “The sustainable model will help relieve the administrative tasks from the districts and bring collaborators from industry and institutions of higher learning to a central location to benefit young people.

"The project is an ideal representation of the University's strategic plan priorities: 1) Promoting student success and engagement, 2) Delivering high-performing academic programs and quality research, and 3) Engaging and serving EMU and regional communities,” Smith said.

An advisory board of community and stakeholder groups will sustain the STEM Institute’s community-centered design beyond the initial five-year commitment. They will focus on addressing emerging needs and community interests as the program grows and evolves.

“We are looking forward to collaborating with EMU on the Driving Possibilities program in southeast Michigan,” said Tellis Bethel, group vice president of Toyota’s Social Innovation. “In addition to EMU’s proximity and relationships with each school district, they have an established reputation for putting community needs first while preparing educators for service in the community.”

To learn more about Toyota’s $110 million dollar commitment to Driving Possibilities, visit ToyotaEffect.com for the latest information.

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

About Toyota Motor North America
Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in North America for more than 65 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands, plus our more than 1,800 dealerships.

Toyota directly employs more than 48,000 people in North America who have contributed to the design, engineering, and assembly of nearly 45 million cars and trucks at our 13 manufacturing plants. By 2025, Toyota’s 14th plant in North Carolina will begin to manufacture automotive batteries for electrified vehicles. With more electrified vehicles on the road than any other automaker, Toyota currently offers 22 electrified options.

Through the Start Your Impossible campaign, Toyota highlights the way it partners with community, civic, academic and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We believe that when people are free to move, anything is possible. For more information about Toyota, visit www.ToyotaNewsroom.com.

About Toyota USA Foundation
The Toyota USA Foundation is a charitable endowment created to support education programs serving kindergarten through 12th-grade students and their teachers in the United States, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

June 08, 2023

Written by:
Melissa Thrasher

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher