Eugenia Duodu-Addy always loved science. As a Black female scientist, that passion is what propelled her to pursue a PhD in chemistry at the University of Toronto despite the naysayers and lack of role models along the way. She joined Visions of Science hoping to break down barriers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for the next generation of youth.
What started as a STEM clubs program engaging a couple of hundred kids and youth in several underserved communities across the city, quickly tripled in size and communities served in its first five years. Visions of Science expanded its formal offerings to a high school STEM leadership program and summer STEM camps serving a total of 1000 youth annually.
Soon enough though, Duodu-Addy and team hit a wall. Says Duodu: “While we were engaging hundreds of youth, the systemic barriers hadn’t changed."
"We wanted to advocate for change, but our ambitions had taken a back seat to continuously scaling up programming.”
Then came the pandemic, but also a collective racial reckoning. That prompted unprecedented, unrestricted (and anonymous) funding, which changed everything. In 2020, Duodu-Addy and team started to dream bigger, all while building virtual programming.
When philanthropy is the linchpin
Toronto Foundation fundholder Fraser Somers was looking for ideas on where his grants could support underprivileged youth using education, sport, nutrition and food security to change their trajectory. He was connected with Visions of Science and liked where they were headed with their strategic planning—staying in touch over the year-long development.
“What I really love is that the team isn’t just offering one programming opportunity,” says Somers. “They’re not parachuting in for one session of summer camp. From the age of eight they’re offering kids a pathway from elementary school to high school to post-secondary and beyond. They’re providing a pathway to change kids’ lives. I truly haven’t seen anything like it.”
While presenting the new plan, Duodu-Addy revealed that they had a sizeable gap in their fundraising needed to get started. Somers confirmed his commitment on the spot.
Duodu-Addy is feeling more hopeful than she ever has. “Fundholders have the power to unlock unlimited potential with trust-based philanthropy. Our innovation, impact and sustainability are finally coming together—and we’re unstoppable.”