PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation in Oregon donated a combined $1 million to eight separate organizations dedicated to promoting the presence of women in STEM.
The foundation said it chose the eight nonprofits because of their work with girls and STEM education, diverting $125,000 to each. Experience Life Science Outdoors is one of those to benefit from the donation.
“The question we ask our students is — if there’s one thing you can change by design in your neighborhood, what would it be,” said Jacquelyn Santa Lucia, ELSO Inc.’s program director.
Girls in the ELSO program acted on that question, designing and building a parklet-turned-outdoor classroom space in the Alberta neighborhood.
Lamfrom and her husband founded Columbia Sportswear in 1938. Lamfrom’s daughter, the late Gert Boyle, left much of her estate to the foundation, and Boyle’s daughter, Sally Bany, founded the non-profit.
“We’re just excited to see how funding goes and how many girls we can spark interest in STEM,” Bany said.
She said the latest round of donations from the foundation were heavily inspired by her late aunt, Hildegard Lamfrom, a molecular biologist who the family found out had worked on scientific breakthroughs.
“We discovered that she quietly was a mastermind behind many things including the immunization behind the COVID virus,” Bany said.
Santa Lucia said that although society has made strides forward, there’s still a lot of work to do to get more young women in the medical and science fields — the Hildegards of the next generation.
“Girls and fem-identifying young people drop out of STEM as young as 12 years old just because of conditions of society we’re in,” she said. “We’re trying to reinforce that love of science.”