Toyota will spend millions in Fayette, Scott schools for new STEM programs. Here’s the plan

Toyota USA Foundation on Monday announced grants of up to $5.7 million to prepare students in Scott County, Fayette County and Northern Kentucky for science, technology, engineering and math careers.

The program, Driving Possibilities, focuses on PreK-12 education to ensure students have better access to careers, including opportunities in the auto industry.

It brings together educators, local and national nonprofits, and communities. The new education program is cited as the largest and most comprehensive in Toyota’s history, according to the company.

“Our goal is to increase awareness of future STEM careers while helping build sustainable programs in the communities where our Toyota team members live and work,” said Tellis Bethel, group vice president of social innovation for Toyota.

The initiative’s phased approach, which offers programming in specific schools such as the middle schools that feed into Lexington’s Bryan Station High School, aims to close educational gaps through hands-on STEM programming while addressing the needs of students and families.

The feeder schools are Mary Todd, Arlington, Russell Cave, Northern elementary schools; Winburn Middle and Bryan Station High, said Fayette district spokeswoman Dia Davidson-Smith.

There will be connections with business and industry partners, a focus on Career Technical Education curriculum, field trips, job shadowing, apprenticeships and mentorships.

Programs will be providing additional resources through equipment, staffing, and support for English learner students and families.

“With $1.2 million in its first year and more to come in the years ahead, we are excited to expand Driving Possibilities here in Kentucky, home to our largest manufacturing plant in the world,” said Bethel.

Kentucky Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman said the investment will eliminate barriers to success, increase opportunities for students and help achieve the goal of a quality education for every Kentuckian.

Driving Possibilities is designed to expand literacy and language resources, build education and industry partnerships, and address transportation barriers.

“With Toyota’s leadership and partnering with amazing organizations such as NCFL and Fayette Education Foundation, we are embarking on a grassroots initiative to dismantle economic and educational barriers facing many FCPS students, families and communities,” Fayette Superintendent Demetrus Liggins said.

Billy Parker, Superintendent of Scott County Schools, said Driving Possibilities is another example of partnership with Toyota.

“We live in a community dedicated to education and continuous improvement. Working together, we will strengthen the Scott County Schools career and technical education pathways and remove barriers to education. We are excited about this initiative and the opportunities it provides our students,” said Parker.

Kerry Creech, president of Toyota Kentucky, said the corporation is focusing resources inside and outside the classroom to help students overcome barriers.

Kentucky is the second site to launch programming; the first was in West Dallas, Texas.

Funding partners include the Community Transportation Association of America, Prichard Committee, National Center for Families Learning, Fayette Education Foundation and the Scott County School District.

At the Ignite Institute in Erlanger, there will be a comprehensive analysis of the transportation needs in the region for students and families through a multi-year research and mapping effort.