WHITINSVILLE, MA – The Blackstone Valley Education Foundation (BVEF) launched its new virtual programming initiative in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This program, which was announced during Massachusetts STEM Week (Oct. 19 to 23), focuses on making events accessible to a larger number of students, teachers, and administrators in BVEF’s full and affiliate member school districts.

“In the midst of COVID-19, we knew that we needed to alter the vehicle by which we delivered the same high quality services to our schools,” said Erika Baum, executive director of BVEF. “By launching our virtual programming, we have been able to successfully respond to this challenge reaching more students and more teachers. Our most recent session with MEFA, focusing on college financing, allowed us to expand our reach even further by having parents participate as well as students and school counselors.”

During the first three weeks of October, BVEF focused on a “Careers in STEM” Webinar Series, where it partnered with local businesses to discuss career options for the attending middle school students. Webinars were offered to partnered school districts via the live Zoom event, live-streamed on YouTube, and recordings to support both synchronous and asynchronous learning.

Gaston Electrical of Norwood and Consigli Construction of Milford took students to virtual worksites, describing their various STEM-in-trades related job duties. Utilizing the virtual format, panelists were able to provide a field trip experience to more than 100 students.

BVEF’s month of virtual programming concluded with a College Financing Webinar co-hosted with the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority. The event, which attracted more than 300 participants, focused on the different types of financial aid, the application process, free resources, and learning how decisions are made.

“We are thankful for our strong business partnerships that enable us to work collaboratively to increase students’ career awareness and provide teachers with opportunities to incorporate real life experiences into their daily lessons,” Baum said. “We are excited to explore different ways in which our virtual programming can continue to positively impact our youth and educators in the months ahead.”