JACKSON, Mich. — Former Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe and her husband, Eric, have donated more than $780,000 in local, statewide to support STEM education and the arts in Jackson.
All money goes into the Dream Maker Fund established in partnership with the Jackson Community Foundation.
The Shop Rat Foundation, which works to ignite interest in manufacturing trades, will receive $100,000.
“We have Lego robotics kits as well as robotics kits that we use in the schools as well as the staff to facilitate it,” Executive Director Kelly Burr-Kofflin said. “One of the great things about the program is we’re able to go into the schools with absolutely everything needed to do it. There’s no burden on the school to come up with the equipment, to come up with the teachers and the training. We just come in ready to go. So, that’s what the grant does is support sustainability.”
The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Jackson County will get $50,000 to support Bright Walls, the public art and mural festival that attracts artists from across the globe. The festival will be held this September in downtown Jackson.
“Jackson will become even more of an international destination to experience public art because of the funding received,” founder Clay McAndrews said.
Poppe donated $60,000 to Jackson’s College and Career Access Center.
“Their gift will be used directly in supporting our many valuable initiatives, moving the needle on post-secondary and career attainment,” Executive Director Nancy-Lewis Peter said. “In helping the young talent of Jackson develop practical and marketable skills, they will be better prepared to find careers that best match and fit their unique potential.”
The bulk of the money, $450,903 is going to the non-profit FIRST in Michigan – otherwise known as For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The money will support robotics programming in the state.
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