Real estate firm donates $260,000 to Durham STEM programs

jalexander@newsobserver.comJune 5, 2014 

— A real estate firm announced a more than a $250,000 donation this week to three Durham education programs in support of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The Longfellow Real Estate Partners, based in Boston, gave grants totaling $260,000 to the programs: $100,000 each to to the Duke Talent Identification Program and Durham Technical Community College and $60,000 to Durham’s Office of Economic and Workforce development.

“Thanks to (this) generous grant ... hundreds of new Durham County students will receive the resources and financial aid they need to pursue careers in these critical areas of study,” Mayor Bill Bell said.

“This partnership is a great example of what you can accomplish when you share a common goal and put the best interests of your community first.”

The grant will support programs that help students from fourth grade through college who are studying in the areas of science, technology, engineering or math.

Katy Munger, director of external relations and communications of Duke TIP, a nonprofit organization that serves academically gifted students, said the grant will put Durham students interested in STEM careers on track for high paying jobs.

Durham Tech will use the money to improve job training in STEM fields.

“What we’re doing is we’re focusing in on providing greater opportunities for paid internships and co-ops for our students and just trying to connect the dots better in regards to pathways for those students interested those careers,” said Tom Jaynes, vice president of Institutional Advancement at Durham Tech.

Life sciences hub

Jessica Brock, managing director of Longfellow’s Durham office, said the idea behind donating the money to STEM programs is that it will some day produce leaders in science, technology, engineering and math to help with its Durham Innovation District.

“It’s an investment in the people and the community,” Brock said. “We are big believers in not just building buildings, but also being apart of the community.”

The innovation district was an idea started by Longfellow to build a state-of-the art urban center in downtown Durham.

The district will be a life sciences hub that backers hope to build in the heart of downtown Durham in the near future; particularly in the area of Morris, Liggett and Fernway streets.

The district is still in the feasibility and planning stages. The area would have laboratory, retail, residential and commercial buildings built to fit into downtown.

It will encompass 1.3 million square feet, the equivalent of The Streets at Southpoint. The district will combine science and technology research and business and is expected to cost $600 million.

Alexander: 919-932-2008; Twitter: @jonmalexander1

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