Oakland, Calif. appears at the beginning and end of Black Panther, bringing the hero, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), full circle in perhaps one of the most visually beautiful, innovative and breathtaking superhero films of all time, Marvel’s Black Panther. The film has broken numerous box office records and achieved widespread critical acclaim. So in light of those facts, it makes sense that Oakland will be one of the cities where Disney plans to help start a STEM center, though it’s not the only one. Disney is providing a one-time grant to help the Boys & Girls Club of America further expand its already-developed STEM curriculum, adding 12 new STEM centers of innovation in these communities: Atlanta, Ga.; Baltimore, Md.; Chicago, Ill.; Harlem, N.Y.; Hartford, Conn.; Memphis, Tenn.; New Orleans, La.; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Washington, D.C.; Watts, Calif.; and yes, Oakland.
Because of Black Panther’s gigantic impact, not only in pop culture and film history but also in its themes surrounding technology and innovation, Disney has officially announced plans to help open STEM Centers across the United States. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. As viewed by the United States National Research Council and the National Science Foundation, STEM are the core technological foundations of an advanced society.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said in the company’s official announcement:
Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is a masterpiece of movie making and has become an instant cultural phenomenon, sparking discussion, inspiring people young and old, and breaking down age-old industry myths. 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.
Disney believes educating children and teens with new innovative skills for the future is part of their social responsibility. The Boys & Girls Club of America Centers of Innovation provide children with the skills Disney believes to be of paramount importance for the successful future of the world. They provide children with a hands-on approach to STEM exploration, including 3-D printers, robotics, high-definition video production and conferencing equipment.
“From hands-on interactive programs to critical thinking, Boys & Girls Clubs of America is committed to providing thousands of young people with the tools they need to prepare for a great future,” said president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Jim Clark. “Thanks to Disney’s support, we can expand our outreach and allow more youth to find their passions and discover STEM careers.”