Skip to main content

Blugold Beginnings receives two major grants for 2018-19 program year

| Emily Wermund

UW-Eau Claire’s Blugold Beginnings program has received two grants for the 2018-19 academic year.

The first grant of more than $160,000 from the Serve Wisconsin program will support the Blugold Beginnings College and Career Readiness program, which aims to engage youth in creative inquiry in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through after-school clubs focused on robotics and coding, STEM day and overnight camps, and tutoring and mentoring in northwestern Wisconsin. The goal is to increase the number of students who have access to STEM enrichment activities, improve homework completion rates and increase grades for students served.

The College and Career Readiness program supports the need for school-based enrichment activities and the need to introduce students to STEM-related activities as co-curricular enrichment. The grant utilizes 67 AmeriCorps Service members to do the following:

  • Offer national youth Science Day to 13 schools and the Boys and Girls Club.
  • Deliver robotics, coding and STEM after-school clubs at four middle schools, three high schools and the Boys and Girls Club.
  • Engage robotics teams in an eight-week curriculum that prepares students for competing in a regional robotics competition.
  • Host a regional robotics competition.
  • Deliver robotics and STEM after-school clubs at 11 elementary schools twice in the fall and twice in the spring.
  • Implement a weekend STEM day camp for the tri-county area for elementary and middle-school students.
  • Provide six STEM, coding and robotics summer day and overnight camps at UW-Eau Claire.

“Our Blugold Beginnings program has worked tirelessly to reduce the opportunity gap for low-income, first-generation students and girls entering STEM fields," says Jodi Thesing-Ritter, director of Blugold Beginnings and executive director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at UW-Eau Claire. "As the demand for this type of programming increases, these grants allow us to serve more students through additional outreach programming in our region.” 

The second grant, $65,000 through Otto Bremer Trust, supports the Blugold Beginning Robotics program and STEM-focused initiatives.

Otto Bremer Trust works to close opportunity gaps in early education and build financial stability. The Blugold Beginnings Robotics program provides qualified mentors, materials and space to students with little exposure to coding or complex problem-solving, helping disadvantaged students improve their college readiness and gain access to their diverse and interconnected community. With the continued support of Otto Bremer Trust, Blugold Beginnings will maintain and expand its efforts to support its community.

Blugold Beginnings Robotics aims to provide students ages 9-14 with a clear and achievable path to success in programming and computer science and problem-solving strategies. Participants in the Blugold Beginnings Robotics program will work closely with mentors from the computer science field, proving a career in computer science is attainable.

With the continued support of Otto Bremer Trust’s investment, Blugold Beginnings Robotics will provide underprivileged middle and high school age students with problem solving skills that are vital to success in computer science.

Because of the focus on at-risk and disadvantaged students, Blugold Beginnings Robotics and Otto Bremer Trust similarly value the mission of providing resources to those who lack the privilege of access. Due to their program and this grant, Blugold Beginnings expects its youth to successfully navigate through school, career, and life to create a happier, healthier and more accessible community.

“This investment in Blugold Beginnings Robotics will provide underserved middle and high school students with problem-solving skills that are vital to success in computer science,” said Charlotte Johnson, co-CEO and trustee, Otto Bremer Trust. “Quality and focused STEM education provided in both in- and after-school environments has the potential to unlock doors to continued education, provide better opportunities for gainful employment, and feed a region hungry for technically skilled workers.”

Blugold Beginnings has a long history of strategically partnering with educators, businesses, and community agencies to maximize programming opportunities and stretch diminishing resources.


About the Otto Bremer Trust

The Otto Bremer Trust, based in St. Paul, Minn., is a private charitable trust established in 1944 by Otto Bremer, a successful banker and community business leader. OBT owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank and also manages a diversified investment portfolio. The mission of OBT is to invest in people, places and opportunities in the Upper Midwest. Since its inception, OBT has invested more than $600 million in organizations throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, and western Wisconsin. Visit