Boeing Co. on Thursday awarded $5.3 million to South Carolina organizations for 2018 year, bringing the aerospace giant's total contributions to the state to $37 million since 2010.
Tim Keating, one of the company's vice presidents, invited representatives from each of the 21 grant recipients to a luncheon. Many of them had previously received funding from Boeing.
The state's tight-knit and "faith-based" culture altered the way Boeing views charity, Keating said.
"South Carolina has made us think differently about who we are as a company and how we approach communities," he said.
About half of the money awarded will directly affect children through wellness and educational programs, such as coding classes in public schools in the Liberty Hill neighborhood in North Charleston.
"I want people in Liberty Hill, the highlands, the lowlands, everywhere in the state to understand," Keating said. "If you're good and you work hard and you acquire the skills set, there's a place for you at the Boeing Co."
In the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood, a six-week summer camp uses STEM concepts — science, technology, engineering and math — to teach coding, robotics and virtual reality to third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. The Zucker Family Graduate Education Center, which is associated with Clemson University, created the program last summer after receiving funding from Boeing, said Elizabeth Colbert-Busch of the university's Restoration Institute.
The program relied on Metanoia, a nonprofit based on Reynolds Avenue, to select 40 students to participate in the summer camp. The Boeing grant sustained the camp, as well as funds for middle school teachers, a graduate student and a faculty adviser, Colbert-Busch said.
"It's one of those things where you're there for six weeks and it's pretty intense, and then it's over and they're gone," she said. "The next day you go in and you have this incredible sense of fulfillment."
In the Liberty Hill neighborhood, an existing effort to fund programs in STEM education at three schools — North Charleston Elementary, Morningside Middle and North Charleston High — will continue next year.
The Coastal Community Foundation's Betsy Kinsley accepted the grant on behalf of the program and described it as an investment in the city the company calls home.
"The students are very smart and can be successful if they're given the right tools and training," Kinsley said. "They want to be a productive part of South Carolina and the future workforce."
Boeing did not disclose how much each grant recipient will get.
As much as the company wants to invest in students, Keating said he wants people to know how much the state has helped the company. Boeing South Carolina has more patents than any other Boeing site in the world, he said.
Keating said students in North Charleston and across the state can work toward a future in fields such as high-tech manufacturing and engineering.
"Their future isn't leaving South Carolina, their future is right here in South Carolina," he said. "And the companies are coming."