13 February, 2024

Student Led Initiative Awarded $26,000 NAE Social Impact Grant

Curious Kids program led by Suah Lee

DMECC logoAt Dalian American International School and Huamei School, we believe that our community service programs provide students with the opportunity to become active members of their larger community, develop critical life skills, knowledge, and leadership. One example is our collaboration with Dalian Mother English Consulting Co. (DMECC) offering youth led programs for primary aged kids that focus on learning in a fun and engaging environment. DMECC creates supportive environments for teen volunteers, young learners and local communities.

Empowering Young Minds: STEM Learning for All

Curious Kids is a student-led STEM program providing quality education and hands-on experience to children in Dalian, with a particular focus on those from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Our mission is to foster a true passion for science in young students while addressing educational inequality in our community. Since its first establishment, Curious Kids has expanded the scope of impact through various initiatives, including online and offline community center classes, in-school ASAs, and computer donations.

Board Games ASA by Curious Kids

Revitalizing Curious Kids

I first discovered the Curious Kids' dormant existence in 2019. Recognizing its yet-bloomed potential, I strongly desired to revitalize this opportunity for children, and now I serve as the program leader.

Like many others, Curious Kids faced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting a shift from offline to online classes. In 2021, when we resumed offline classes, the team revised the curriculums from focusing on memorization to interactive and inquiry-based STEM education - realizing the lack in local education system. As a result, currently Curious Kids comprises of 3 stages - Board Games, In-Home Science, and Makey Makey/ Coding.

Stages of Curious Kids

Consequently, I initiated the Curious Kids Board Games ASA and In-Home Science classes at the Jinman community center.

Unveiling the NAE Social Impact Grants

The NAE Social Impact Grants are funding opportunities provided by Nord Anglia Education (NAE). These grants aim to support initiatives and projects led by students within NAE's global network of schools that address social issues and make a positive impact in local communities or beyond. The grants are designed to empower students to develop and implement innovative solutions to real-world challenges, fostering leadership, creativity, and social responsibility. For the 2023-2024 round, NAE has selected 24 new student-led projects to receive a total of US$304,000 in funding. Out of applicants from 87 schools, Curious Kids has successfully secured $26,000!

Social Impact Grant

I first learned about the NAE Social Impact Grants during the NAE UNICEF Summit in New York, which I attended as a DAIS Service Learning and 17 SDGs ambassador. As Ms. Sparks introduced the opportunity, I realized at one moment that it would greatly assist the program in stepping forward. Over the past years, the supply of teaching materials has been a barrier to expanding Curious Kids. With the grant, I ensured that more hands-on experiments would be available, providing rich experiences to spark interest in STEM.

After returning to the school community and introducing the Social Impact Grants to DAIS through online sessions, I examined the grant more closely and decided to apply.

Social Impact Grants Teams Workshop

The grant application process was more overloading than I first imagined. Myungha and I began working by brainstorming ways to utilize the grant to expand Curious Kids to a broader audience. We decided to focus on enhancing our pre-existing three stages with the grant.

I believe the success of the grant application is rooted in our passion and a detailed plan driven by a strong desire to make a difference. The application required a list of items to purchase and a 2-year grant usage plan. There, we outlined a realistic progression of the program, which utilizes the full potential of various stages. Additionally, in the introductory video, we identified who we are, our needs, pictures and video footage from past experiences, and how the grant could transform our community.

Social Impact Grant application
Myungha (left) and Suah applying for the Social Impact Grant

This experience allowed me to delve deeper into project management, refine my communication techniques, and strengthen my ability to collaborate effectively within a team. I am also grateful for invaluable support provided by Ms. Rochelle and Ms. Lilian throughout the application process, without which our success would not have been possible.

Shaping Tomorrow: NAE Social Impact Grants and Curious Kids

We are currently in the process of transferring the grant from Nord Anglia Education, as well as planning events to utilize the funds we received. Curious Kids is still progressing with the elementary Board Games ASA and Sunday JinMan Community Center classes.

Jinman Community Center science class

There is more to come - we warmly encourage more DAIS/DHS students to join our team and contribute to providing equitable STEM education to young kids in our community. Through participating in various events, students can develop their leadership skills.

Board Games ASA group picture

In conclusion, securing the Social Impact Grants is one of the team's proud achievements, and we are eager to work with the community. Through Curious Kids, I hope more DAIS/DHS students will get familiar with the grant and seize this unique opportunity given by the NAE. Curious Kids looks forward to building a brighter and more inclusive future where every child is given the equal opportunity to experience the world of STEM. The Social Impact Grants will serve as a catalyst for change, propelling Curious Kids towards its mission of not just educating but also empowering the leaders of tomorrow!

Suah Lee
DAIS Grade 11
Curious Kids program leader