Boeing Supports Geospatial Education for East St. Louis students

ST. LOUIS, MO., April 19, 2024 – Boeing, [NYSE: BA] has awarded a $70,000 grant to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to support a multifaceted geospatial education program for middle and high school students in East St. Louis. Geospatial education is a field that teaches students how to use technology like GPS and remote sensing to analyze and interpret spatial data. This knowledge allows them to better understand the connections between people, places, and the environment. Boeing’s funding will support an after-school program dedicated to this subject, a geospatial-themed summer camp, and science-career internships for high school students.

The program builds on Boeing’s previous investments and will be conducted through the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Food, Agriculture, Nutrition Innovation Center (JJK FAN), an initiative launched in partnership between the Danforth Center, the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Lansdowne UP. The goal of the program is to advance underserved students’ understanding of important scientific concepts, as well as real-world problems that affect their community— empowering young people to pursue careers in STEAM+Ag®.

Drone’s-eye view. Thanks to a generous grant from Boeing, the Danforth Center launched a summer camp in East St. Louis last summer that gave students a hands-on introduction to the world of geospatial science. (Photo courtesy of Falcon Aerial Analytics.)

The three components of the program include:

  • An after-school program designed to provide students with fundamental knowledge on geography, mapping, and geospatial technology.
  • A summer camp where students can continue their training through hands-on experiences offered by partner institutions. These experiences show the real-world applications of geospatial science and the roles of professionals in this field—from flying drones to creating maps—and teach the students how to apply geospatial technology in STEAM+Ag.
  • And summer internships for high school students interested in STEAM+Ag and geospatial fields. Those identified to participate can conduct their own projects collecting geospatial data, tour institutions working in the geospatial field, and give back to their community through their work. The interns also take on leadership roles by serving as teaching assistants during the after-school and summer programs.

The second cycle of Boeing’s grant will provide further geospatial education opportunities for underserved youth and inspire them to pursue scientific careers. Above: Juan Carlos Antolinez from Falcon Aerial Analytics.

Through these experiences, the Danforth Center, Boeing, and JJK FAN seek to grow and develop the St. Louis region’s scientific workforce. They also believe that through this program, students will be encouraged to leverage their knowledge to benefit East St. Louis—becoming advocates for food justice, getting involved in food production, and working to combat the region’s food desert status. The second cycle of Boeing’s grant will help consolidate, refine, and grow the program. It will allow for the creation of new after-school activities, the improvement of current ones, and enable more students in the region to participate.

“Boeing’s partnership with the Danforth Center and JJK FAN aims to empower young minds in the St. Louis community,” said Monique Bynum, Boeing Global Engagement community investor. “By creating opportunities for students to discover the eye-opening world of geospatial technology, we can set them on a path toward a more successful future and foster a new generation of innovators with the skills to transform the world, and their own backyard.”

Boeing team members will continue their active involvement in this inititive by visiting classrooms, taking part in activities, and offering their invaluable expertise to the students.

“Boeing’s commitment continues to inspire us. They are making it possible to focus on communities facing critical food insecurity challenges and on students who are underrepresented in STEAM+Ag,” said Sandra Arango-Caro, PhD, Danforth Center Senior Education Researcher and Principal Investigator. “Not only do they provide critical funding to make these life-changing opportunities possible for the youth of East St. Louis, but Boeing employees donate their valuable time as volunteers in these programs. We could not be more grateful for Boeing’s generous support.”

About The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a not-for-profit research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Research, education, and outreach aim to have an impact at the nexus of food security and the environment and position the St. Louis region as a world center for plant science. The Center’s work is funded through competitive grants from many sources, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and through the generosity of individual, corporate, and foundation donors. Follow us on X at @DanforthCenter.

About Boeing
As a leading global aerospace company, Boeing develops, manufactures and services commercial airplanes, defense products and space systems for customers in more than 150 countries. As a top U.S. exporter, the company leverages the talents of a global supplier base to advance economic opportunity, sustainability and community impact. Boeing's diverse team is committed to innovating for the future, leading with sustainability, and cultivating a culture based on the company's core values of safety, quality and integrity.

About The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation
Founded in 1988 by Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the JJK Foundation is an iconic organization with a mission to carry out Jackie’s dream to provide youth in East St. Louis the opportunity to win in life. The JJK Foundation’s theory of change is that youth can overcome obstacles and become successful through access to healthy lifestyles, quality educational opportunities, sports and recreation, and character and leadership development. The JJK Foundation serves as a portal through which the Greater East St. Louis community can thrive.

For more information contact: Karla Roeber, VP Public and Government Affairs,