GCFS hosts 'Revel for Robotics' STEM fundraiser
With a festive nod to the start of holiday entertaining, the Garden City Friends of STEM (GCFS) hosted a ‘Revel for Robotics’ fundraiser on November 20. The event, held at Revel Restaurant at 835 Franklin Avenue in Garden City, helped raise funds in support of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs for the children of Garden City.
Guests were treated to lively jazz music courtesy of students from the Garden City Music Academy, as well as a chance to enjoy an open bar and sample numerous delicious hors d’oevures prepared by executive chef Mario Lopez that evening. A raffle was also held for prizes that included a Leg Mindstorms Kit, donated by Tarr Home Improvements, Inc., two tickets to the Broadway show "Jersey Boys," donated by Bob and Judy Gaudio, and two Revel gift certificates donated by the restaurant’s owners, Francine and Jim Doukas.
This fundraiser was the first for GCFS. The nonprofit was founded earlier this year by a group of concerned parents who have made it their mission to help improve the variety of STEM programs, including robotic teams, available to students in Garden City, joining a growing number of STEM-based educational nonprofits that have formed around the country. This effort is timely as evidenced by the sobering statistics on the lack of available tech talent in the United States. According to Code.org, there are currently 586,982 open computing jobs nationwide, yet only 38,175 computer science students have graduated into the workforce. If the trend continues, there will be 1,000,000 more jobs than available graduates to fill them by the year 2020.
While school districts have tried to fill the gap, including notable support from administrators at the Garden City school district, expenses associated with purchasing parts and supplies for STEM-related courses can add up quickly. For example, robotic kits at the high-school competition level can cost thousands of dollars. Other potentially costly items can include lab equipment as well as stipends for additional teaching support.
It is with these costs in mind that GCFS launched their organization and associated fundraiser to put out the call for community support and sponsorship, with companies such as Charles Schwab, Flushing Bank, and Fidelity stepping up to assist in funding these initiatives.
Frank Pelliccione, VP of Business Development at Flushing Bank, one of GCFS’s sponsors, attended the Revel fundraiser along with the bank’s Business Specialist, Stanley Carrenard. In a joint statement, they expressed their gratitude to the organization for providing them with an opportunity to help out. "As a community bank, Flushing Bank is committed to giving back to the communities we serve,” they wrote. “We are proud to sponsor and be a part of such a wonderful event that was hosted by Garden City Friends of STEM. It was great to see members of the Garden City community come together in support of this fundraiser that will provide the children of Garden City an opportunity to learn about the field of robotics."
Patricia Lynch, executive director of The Garden City Friends of STEM, also extended her thanks to those who have helped the organization in its inaugural year. “We appreciate all the sponsors who have been involved in this great cause for the Garden City community, as this would not be possible without their help. We also want to thank Francine and Jim Doukas of Revel for their support of our first fundraiser and helping to make it such a successful and fun evening. We look forward to everyone’s continued support as we work to launch exciting new STEM programs for our kids in 2016.”