Sci-fi superhero film “Black Panther” is smashing box office records and it is establishing itself as one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. To celebrate the movie’s success, the Walt Disney Company announced it is donating $1 million to Boys & Girls Clubs of America to build momentum in the upcoming generation’s interest in math and science.
Disney’s donation will help expand programs in science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM). These high-tech skills are prevalent throughout “Black Panther,” which takes place in Wakanda, a technologically-advanced secret African nation.
“It is thrilling to see how inspired young audiences were by the spectacular technology in the film, so it’s 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,” Robert Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company, said in a news release.
For decades, superhero movies have been dominated by white characters. “Black Panther” is making movie history as it brings to the big screen the first black mainstream comic book hero, T’Challa, or Black Panther. He was originally created in 1966 by Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby.
Underrepresentation In STEM
The technology in “Black Panther” presents the opportunity to address disparities in STEM fields. Earlier this year, a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in the STEM workforce. The underrepresentation exists in all STEM job clusters (with the exception of healthcare practitioners and technicians). This can cause income disparities, as those working full-time in STEM fields earn, on average, 26 percent more than similarly educated non-STEM workers.
Encouraging young people’s interest in STEM fields is important, as the United States faces growing demand for skilled graduates in these jobs. According to Pew Research Center, employment in these occupations has grown nearly 80 percent since 1990, outpacing overall U.S. job growth.
12 Cities Will Benefit
Boys & Girls Clubs of America will use the Disney grant to expand on its STEM curriculum and establish new “STEM Centers of Innovation” in a dozen cities across the U.S.
The centers will be in Atlanta; Baltimore; Chicago; Harlem, New York; Hartford, Connecticut; Memphis, Tennessee; New Orleans; Oakland, California; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C. and Watts, California.
Hands-on, advanced technologies — such as 3-D printers, robotics, and high-definition video production equipment — meant to stir creativity will be a focus of the STEM centers. Plus, STEM experts will be on staff at the centers to provide mentorship.
Maybe with this new influx of STEM-educated youngsters, we’ll have some real-life Kimoyo beads hitting the market sooner than we thought!