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TE Foundation makes $1,250,000 in grants to three organizations focused on increasing access to STEM careers across the globe

May 07, 2018

FIRST Global, UN Foundation's Girl Up and Level Playing Field's SMASH receive support

BERWYN, Pa., May 7, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The TE Connectivity Foundation today announced that its 2018 grants have been awarded to three nonprofit organizations that advance the TE Foundation's mission of connecting and strengthening global communities through access to technology and engineering for all, with a focus on women and underserved populations. The organizations receiving one-year grants are: FIRST Global, Girl Up and SMASH.

TE Connectivity Ltd. Logo. (PRNewsFoto/TE Connectivity Ltd.) (PRNewsfoto/TE Connectivity Ltd.)

Commenting on the grants, Karen Leggio, chair of the TE Foundation Board of Trustees and senior vice president and general manager of TE Connectivity's North American Automotive business, said: "We believe that helping to build strong communities and increasing access to education and careers in engineering and technology is core to creating a sustainable global work force and meaningful work opportunities for all. The three organizations we selected do just that, and we are excited to work with each of them and see the impact of their programs on women and underserved populations. 'Every connection counts' is not just a tagline at TE. It permeates all that we do."

FIRST Global runs high-profile, international robotics competitions designed around solving major global challenges with high school aged participants from around the world, inspiring not only those who participate, but also those from teams' home countries. The TE Foundation grant will help extend the competition to additional nations where girls are not typically given the opportunity to partake in equal education or opportunities like this, and also help provide the kits needed for the competition. Kevin Wensing, executive director of FIRST Global said: "The FIRST Global Challenge builds connections, relationships and inspires future leaders of the international community through the exciting sport of robotics and STEM, encouraging them to pursue their dreams. We are grateful to the TE Foundation for their strong leadership and support." 

Girl Up is a global leadership development organization hosted at the UN Foundation. Girl Up's GIRLHERO Solution Labs and STEM boot camps are one-day "hackathon" style events where girls come together to create STEM solutions for social issues impacting gender equality such as access to education and health information. The goal of the events is to utilize experts and resources that will galvanize girls' interest in STEM careers for social good while simultaneously widening the lens through which they see STEM and STEM careers, and increasing STEM's relevance to a broader population of girls. The TE Foundation's grant will provide funding to create five GIRLHERO Solution Labs and STEM boot camps in domestic and international markets. "Science doesn't have a gender, yet we know that girls are often discouraged from pursuing careers in STEM," said Girl Up co-executive director Melissa Kilby. "We know that girls can be leaders in the STEM space. Girl Up's boot camps and hackathons give girls the tools to put STEM into practice."  

The TE Foundation's third grant recipient is SMASH, a program of the Level Playing Field Institute. SMASH provides access to technology and engineering for underserved students of color and has a proven track record of success. Its free, multi-year college prep program currently operates in several regions in the U.S. The TE Foundation grant will enable the organization to expand to new U.S. markets, replicate its approach, and create an alumni network to help ensure that ongoing support is available for those who have gone through the program, thereby increasing the likelihood that these students will engage in STEM careers. "If technology is going to live up to its promise of innovation, its workforce must include talent that reflects the diversity of our nation," said Eli Kennedy, CEO of the Level Playing Field Institute. "SMASH provides the environment to nurture and develop the untapped genius in students from underrepresented communities. The generous gift from the TE Foundation will allow us to continue expanding SMASH so we can equip thousands more deserving students with the experience, resources and support to uplift themselves and their communities."

About TE Connectivity Foundation
The TE Connectivity Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable foundation. Established in 1977 by TE Connectivity, the TE Foundation is funded entirely by TE Connectivity.  The TE Foundation seeks to connect and strengthen communities around the world through access to technology and engineering for all, with a focus on women and underserved populations.

About TE Connectivity
TE Connectivity Ltd. (NYSE: TEL) is a $13 billion global technology and manufacturing leader creating a safer, sustainable, productive, and connected future. For more than 75 years, our connectivity and sensor solutions, proven in the harshest environments, have enabled advancements in transportation, industrial applications, medical technology, energy, data communications, and the home. With 78,000 employees, including more than 7,000 engineers, working alongside customers in nearly 150 countries, TE ensures that EVERY CONNECTION COUNTS. Learn more at and on LinkedIn, Facebook, WeChat and Twitter.

About FIRST Global
FIRST Global's mission is to inspire science and technology leadership and innovation in young people from all nations in order to increase understanding, instill the importance of cooperation, address the world's most pressing issues, and improve the quality of life for all. By showing the youth of the world that if they communicate, cooperate, and work together – even in a competition – using the tools of science and engineering to find solutions to the world's greatest challenges, they will be able to accomplish great things and become part of a truly global community. Learn more at

About Girl Up
Girl Up is "by girls, for girls" – girl-led and girl-driven - and engages girls to take action to achieve global gender equality and change our world. Through its leadership development programs, Girl Up inspires, convenes, trains and connects girls globally, helping to position them as leaders and changemakers.  With more than 700,000 supporters, Girl Up leaders are a proven force for social good.

Girl Up's leadership training and skill development programs have created a generation of current and future girl leaders who have helped Girl Up leaders increase their confidence in their own leadership abilities, raise millions of dollars for United Nations programs, and advocated for global policies to stop child marriage, ensure that girls are registered at birth, and help refugee girls have access to education. Girls are the future, and through their work with Girl Up, girls have shown their schools, friends and communities the true power of girls.

Girl Up is hosted at the United Nations Foundation, working across a global community of partners to achieve gender equality worldwide. Learn more at

SMASH is the flagship project of the Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI). Founded in 2001 by Freada Kapor Klein, LPFI is committed to eliminating the barriers faced by underrepresented people of color in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and fostering their untapped talent for the advancement of our nation. Learn more at


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Rachel Quimby, TE Connectivity, 1 610-893-9593,