The Geek Group National Science Institute was established in 1994 in Grand Rapids, Michigan as a mechanism for students to obtain direct access to science and technology. Since then, TGG has grown into a primary resource for individuals, groups, employers, and families seeking innovative educational options, 21st century skills, vocational training, self-paced learning, and unique STEM programming.
TGG is driven by a passionate Board of Directors and enthusiastic staff, representing a diverse background in education, technology, industry, and training. In our 22 years of service, we have made tremendous progress in our vision to provide educational parity and accessibility for any interested individual seeking new learning opportunities. With continued support, TGG can pursue our goal to facilitate education that meets the needs of the individual and community in a flexible and open environment, free of access barriers.
By the year 2030, 50% of jobs that exist today will be made obsolete by developing technologies and we do not yet know exactly what jobs will take their place. Education can no longer be a singular event in a person’s life. It must be continuing, agile, accessible and relevant to allow people to adapt to constantly changing societal expectations. Systemic barriers make it difficult for underserved populations to not only access the education and training they need, but to ensure they receive a current, competitive education.
The Geek Group’s role in science and technology is to provide direct accessibility and opportunities for education, vocational training, recreational learning, and program development through implementation of direct services for the classroom, at home, and at our central campus. TGG operates programming that assists K-12 classrooms, post-secondary education, and adults seeking training or retraining. We believe education should be a lifelong endeavor, and should be a collective effort between educators, industry, individuals, and local neighborhoods. This positions TGG as a credible, necessary partner in education, both in Michigan and nationally.
Join us in bringing to fruition our comprehensive approach in optimizing community impact and creating direct access to education for every age and walk of life. Key components of our three-year plan include:
- Capacity Building for TGG
- Strengthening direct services and community impact for underserved populations
- Serving as the backbone organization for cooperative efforts in supplemental education
- Aligning with partners to develop and sustain curriculum that is consistently relevant and necessary
The key to a sustainable career path is continuing education that fits the specific needs and goals of the individual. You have an opportunity to help build direct pathways to success for our community – through annual giving, partnership or sponsorship. TGG’s passionate supporters are a crucial part in transforming the static educational options currently available into dynamic, lifelong instructional environments around the country.
Education is the single biggest key to opportunity in life. It must be available to every person, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, or previous educational history. We invite you to review our Case for Support and learn more about how you can become part of the change to help The Geek Group in our life-changing mission.
Lead by a dedicated Board of Directors and staff, The Geek Group is represented by a diverse set of backgrounds in education, technology, industry, and training. Working in collaboration with and on behalf of countless other supportive individuals and organizations, we have worked to supply thoughtful, patient, and helpful assistance in making education a fundamental part of life for everyone. With continued support, TGG can strive to provide more learning opportunities in education, vocation and recreation.
Success in the future will be defined by one’s ability to adapt to and overcome changing circumstances. To do this, education must become a lifelong endeavor. We must prepare our children for jobs that do not yet exist while remaining flexible in expectation of what skills are most relevant in any given career track.
Lifelong education begins in kindergarten, and must be easily accessible. Opportunities to learn must exist outside, as well as inside, the classroom. Learning should be comfortable and presented without barriers or expectations. It needs no justification beyond curiosity.
However, educational opportunities must be made available for individuals to learn specific skill sets as jobs are created and new needs arise. According to a January 2015 study conducted by AAC&U and Hart Research Associates, 58% of employers surveyed said that incoming employees needed to be more prepared for the specific job they would be performing. 65% said that students were not given the assistance they needed to ensure they were prepared for moving up the corporate ladder. In mid-2016, there were over 5 million jobs open; at the same time, a survey by McKinsey & Company revealed that 40% of employers are not filling entry-level positions because students do not have the basic skills required. Vocational education must be oriented toward specific goals which fulfill specific needs..
- Develops stronger social interactions in a safe, real world environment
- Saves money on project investment due to direct tool access
- Decreases the likelihood of developing a consumer-based attitude
- Teaches and encourages the practice of critical thinking skills
- Provides the potential to learn new skills, whether for fun or for a new career path
With so many benefits, continuing education seems like an obvious choice for anyone facing stagnant employment options. However, it is inaccessible or unaffordable for large portions of the population. Continuing education needs to be both accessible and relevant to individual cases.
Vocational trades are one of the strongest growing industries in the United States, especially in Michigan. Maintaining and sustaining local manufacturing requires skilled training in areas such as mechanical service, carpentry, electrical engineering, plumbing, air movement installation, welding, and automation operation. Skills to provide service, upgrades, and repair to existing installations in homes and businesses are also needed.
As a person who likes the tinker. I was never really afforded a chance to really explore and expand my technical talents.
What The Geek Group offers is a chance for people like my self to succeed in life by doing just that.
The very concepts behind The Geek Group are astounding to me and it’s an idea I wish would spread as too many people in this world are left behind without the opportunities The Geek Group offers.
The Role of The Geek Group
Responding to the Need
The Geek Group’s role is to establish direct access to science and technology and to provide the opportunity for lifelong learning.
Our programming is split for each major age group (K-12, Postsecondary, Adult, and Family) and developed so that it fits the needs of these groups broadly while also maintaining flexibility to meet individual needs, with services such as:
- Curriculum that meets Next Generation and Common Core standards
- Programming that can be used in the classroom with little to no training for educators
- Hands-on activities that turn abstract science into something tangible and relatable
Current technology and manufacturing industries are evolving at a pace we’ve never experienced before. Job applicants and employees require constant education and training to stay competitive and have the opportunity for advancement. We provide assistance with this by:
- Facilitating a self-propelled education program that focuses on individual needs
- Maintaining relationships with experienced industry professionals who are available to provide educational services and support our vision
- Producing nationwide online training
- Continually developing relationships with industry to ensure that our programs are relevant, up-to-date, and necessary
- Providing a facility useful for small business development
When learning is fun, people begin learning for its own sake. We believe that making education an enjoyable part of everyday life is vital to making individuals successful. We help by:
- Maintaining an online community where free discussion is encouraged
- Offering a facility with direct access to science and technology for hobby use
- Offering free, online educational programming that is both approachable and enjoyable
Recent Accomplishments & Current Efforts
- 314,133 hours of educational video produced in our facility was viewed by students in classrooms in all 50 states and in 231 countries between October 1, 2015 and October 1, 2016.
- Facilitated providing 3,200 computers at low or no cost to families in need, many who had never before had a computer in their home.
- Assisted in establishing the Nation of Makers organization through a coalition of makerspaces organized through the White House, in an effort to provide technical access to interested individuals around the country.
- Partnered with the Stanford Poverty Lab to provide systemic change in programming available to underserved members of our community to help break intergenerational poverty.
- Facilitated access for members of West Michigan to participate in Art Prize, the largest open art competition in the world, so their artisan achievements could be viewed by as many as 440,000 people.
- Assisted our local community in efforts to strengthen stability, such as providing shelter during emergency weather, being an open community center for educational efforts, and providing facility space for external community groups and clubs.
- Partnered with Grand Rapids Community College, Calvin College, Grand Valley State University, Kendall College of Art and Design, Davenport University, and Ferris State University to provide hands-on programming for students specific to their majors, programs, and needs in capacities that are unavailable or difficult to obtain within the traditional school environment.
More to Accomplish
Develop comprehensive curriculum for all Next Generation and Common Core science, engineering, and manufacturing standards
Expand vocational training into growing industries in the Midwest
Provide focused initiatives to assist with financial stability through education, for all ages
Accessible, Lifelong Education
Three Year Plan
|Who||The Geek Group as well as its partners and stakeholders|
|What||A comprehensive expansion plan for developing a life-long learning culture and opportunities for relevant educational opportunities through a coalition between educational institutions, industry, and students.|
|Where||Based out of Michigan, this will focus on change on a local, state, regional and national scale.|
|Why||We are firmly entrenched in the future of technology. Children enrolling in kindergarten in 2017 are expecting to graduate high school in 2030 – a year in which we cannot anticipate the employment outlook because 50% of existing jobs will no longer exist. We must prepare our children to be lifelong learners, to be their own education advocates, and to be prepared.
In order to support future generations, we must support learning on a lifetime continuum. It must become part of our culture, and a standard in the home. This is an anticipated requirement for decreasing intergenerational poverty rates.
|How||While the benefits of education are widely known, attaining education is still quite difficult, especially for underrepresented groups such as women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and families who have never gone to college. Education is something that becomes easy to get the more you have. If you have had very little, obtaining more becomes very difficult, especially if you also have to balance it with life responsibilities.
A comprehensive, multi-level system approach is needed to optimize impact and create a learning culture that focuses on relevant outcomes. Key components of the plan include:
The Geek Group capacity building
Collaboration with educational facilities and members of industry
Direct programming for educators to use in the classroom as well as students to use in the home
Impact initiatives that align with individual and community needs
Accessible Education Plan
Three Year Budget
|Expense||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
Become Part of the Change
Understanding the need for education is only the first step in creating a lifelong learning culture. Adults and children alike are more successful when they have a supportive environment free of barriers to access, while maintaining flexibility to suit the interests and needs of the individual. You have an opportunity to help build communities that support and provide persistent study and training. Whether it is through annual giving, a partnership, or sponsorship, or by making a personal donation, TGG’s passionate supporters are crucial to creating change in the approach to education and educational access.
Information on Donating
There are many ways to show your support and create change:
General support is a critical investment in education, employment opportunities, and learning culture for children, families, and communities.
You or your organization will receive recognition for supporting a specific program, function, or activity. Examples of sponsorship include: underwriting the cost to develop our supplemental educational programming; covering the cost of technology that is provided to members of our community; and many more.
TGG programs are the way we turn ideas into action. Our three-year plan identifies some of the innovative initiatives that help build a culture of lifelong learning.
When you support The Geek Group, we will acknowledge your support on our website, in our newsletter, on sponsored program or project materials, on our sponsor wall at our Headquarters, and in social media.
Appendix A: Three Year Plan Details
Target Goals & Timeline
- Diversify revenue streams, and identify sustainable opportunities
- Collaborate with partners and sectors to establish current standards and expectations
- Board development and network planning
- Substantiate curriculum that meets Next Generation, National Science Education and Common Core standards for K-12 students
- Identify regional needs in education, vocation, and job placement
- Strengthen existing programming
- Strengthen existing partnerships between school districts, postsecondary institutions, and recreational learning facilities
- Establish new partnerships in industry sectors and educational institutions
- Identify partnership needs
- Project future needs on immediate and long-term scale
- Update and implement development plan
- Optimize relationships with educational, government, and private institutions
- Continue K-12 programming
- Identify additional community partners on a regional and national scale
- Continue collaboration with other partners to include post-secondary education
- Establish groundwork for long-term programming
- Convene partnerships into educational coalition based on relevant input and meaningful outcomes
- Offer training to educators and sectors of industry
- Research partnership coalition on international scale
- Update Strategic Plan
- Collaborate with state, regional, and national organizations
- Identify and establish expansion plans
- Continue model for community engagement
- Continue education programming initiatives
- Convene partnerships to network, share best practices, and evaluation
- Continue to identify needs and desired outcomes with educators and industry
- Provide leadership to small scale education initiatives
- Evaluate and strengthen membership programs and structure
- Establish grant-giving program for small scale education programming on a national scale
Other Programming Opportunities
- Industry specific educational programming designed toward regional needs to provide opportunity that has greatest chance of sustainable employment
- Direct access to programming for small business development on micro and macro scale with opportunity for financial support of participants
- Establishment of a basic organizational/leadership structure for local based initiatives that are flexible to meet hyper-local needs on a national scale
- A training program for educators to fit growing technology needs and continued learning challenges
- Stronger recreational programming and challenges, to instill an enjoyment of learning with potential for rewards
- Direct access to technology initiatives on national scale
Components of The Geek Group Declaration
- Provide relevant educational opportunities that lead to a sustainable career path
- Provide current technology that is readily accessible to families regardless of socioeconomic status or technology literacy
- Build a new generation of natural treasures
- Become an iconic destination of scientific pursuit
- Design an environment for parents to explore education, engineering, and vocation with their children