This week, The Walt Disney Company announced that it will donate $1 million of its Black Panther profits to the Boys and Girls of America's youth STEM programs by press release.
The one-time donation will go towards developing and supporting STEM initiatives. The use of science, technology, engineering and math are central to the plot of Black Panther, and fans were marveled by the character Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, a tech genius who used her brain as her superpower.
Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said, "Marvel Studios' Black Panther is a masterpiece of movie making and has become an instant cultural phenomenon, sparking discussion, inspiring people young and old, and breaking down age-old industry myths. It is thrilling to see how inspired young audiences were by the spectacular technology in the film, so its fitting that we show our appreciation by helping advance STEM programs for youth, especially in underserved areas of the country to give them the knowledge and tools to build the future they want."
The Boys and Girls Club is a national organization, with sites located across the United States, serves more than 4 million teens, helping them build essential skills while providing them with a safe after-school environment.
The grant from The Walt Disney Company will help establish new STEM centers in 12 cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, New York, Hartford, Memphis, New Orleans, Oakland, Orlando, Philadelphia, Washington, DC and Watts.
The STEM centers will be highly advanced, and allow kids to have access to knowledge needed to enter careers in STEM fields. The centers will be equipped with technologies such as 3-D printers, robotics labs, high-definition video production and conferencing equipment. STEM experts will be on hand as mentors.
Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America said, "From hands-on interactive programs to critical thinking, Boys & Girls Clubs of America is committed to providing thousands of young people with the tools they need to prepare for a great future. Thanks to Disney's support, we can expand our outreach and allow more youth to find their passions and discover STEM careers."
The move from Disney follows a petition calling on the company to donate 25 percent of its Black Panther profits to black STEM education. As of last weekend, the film had earned more than $704 million globally; this donation is about 0.14 percent of that gross.
Chaz Gormley, who began that petition, told Blavity that he was very happy about the donation.
"Having volunteered at the local Boys and Girls Club of America here in Denver, teaching kids to write code while I was studying at the Turing School of Software and Design, the impact of this donation made by Disney will be huge," Gormley said. "A key component of the petition, and something that was lost in all the fuss about it, was the importance of not only showing kids a fantasy world of advanced technology on screen, but aiding in providing them with the real world skills and tools to make such a world their reality. Disney has just shown the world what’s possible when corporations invest in the communities that invest in them. "