Boost to Education: Cognizant Gives $100M for STEM, American Airlines Awards Grants for Flight Instruction

North Texas educational institutions receive financial backing for their programs from foundations and businesses.



Cognizant is establishing a nonprofit foundation to support Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education.

The multinational IT company, which has an office in Irving, announced its plans to set up a new nonprofit with a $100 million grant last week.

The official launch of the Cognizant U.S. Foundation will be this spring, and details about how funds will be dispersed have not been released.

However, the company is expanding its recruiting, training, and re-skilling programs to the Dallas area this year. 

In November, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Cognizant would open a new technology and service center in Irving.


American Airlines presented the Northwest ISD Aviation and Aeronautics Academy with a $13,000 grant for flight simulator software. Shown, from left, Cameron Rowe of American Airlines, Donny Pharr and CyLynn Braswell of NISD, and Amie Boger of American Airlines. [Photo courtesy of Northwest ISD]


Two North Texas schools were among 10 nationwide to receive awards in January totaling $313,000 from Fort Worth-based American Airlines’ flight education grant program.

The McKinney ISD Aviation Academy — which received $25,000 — and V.R. Eaton High School’s Aviation & Aeronautics Academy in the Northwest ISD — a recipient of a $13,000 grant — were chosen by the American Airlines program, which seeks to grow and diversify the pilot population.

Donny Pharr, aviation facilitator at V.R. Eaton said the students did all the work on the grant proposal themselves.

“They were quite involved,” he said. The money will be used to buy 30 computer flight simulator packages.

McKinney and V.R. Eaton were in exclusive company in receiving the grants.

“Of the nearly 600 organizations we invited to participate in our program, these 10 stood out with innovative ideas on growing and diversifying the pilot career path and creating opportunities for those who may not otherwise have the chance to learn,” David Tatum, American’s director of pilot recruiting and development, said in a release.


Eight universities and colleges will host “Consejos Collectives: Improving STEM Success at HSIs” Feb. 27-28 at El Centro College in downtown Dallas.

The conference was announced by Texas Woman’s University, which is among the coalition of universities and colleges putting on the event. It is made possible by a $99,000 National Science Foundation grant. The event seeks to help participants better understand the obstacles and opportunities for Hispanic students going into STEM fields.

TWU, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, Angelo State University, Del Mar College, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, West Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, and El Centro College are all collaborating on the event.


The Better Together Fund has awarded a $60,000 planning grant to Dallas-based education nonprofits Big Thought and Dallas Afterschool.

The nonprofits will use the funds to work with Southern Methodist University’s Center on Research and Evaluation on evaluating the impact and potential for collaboration among out-of-school-time programs such as tutoring or summer camps.

“This strategic partnership will allow Dallas educators to tap SMU computing resources to process large amounts of data.”

Stephanie L. Knight

The nonprofits will build and implement a comprehensive system to analyze student-level and programmatic data via the Expanded Learning Information System.

The system will support out-of-school-time service providers in Dallas, according to the nonprofits.

“This strategic partnership will allow Dallas educators to tap SMU computing resources to process large amounts of data,” said Stephanie L. Knight, dean of the Simmons School of Education and Human Development, in a release. “And, our researchers in CORE will know how to make the data meaningful for our community and move this important research forward.”


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based PPG Foundation has invested $20,000 to support Illuminate STEM, the Dallas-based organization that provide STEM programming to more than 1,000 middle and high school students from underrepresented areas in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The foundation made the donation on behalf of PPG’s architectural coatings business and the PPG Paints retail store in Dallas.

“By enabling students to explore these areas and gain pertinent skills necessary to succeed in technical fields such as advanced manufacturing, we can help them gain invaluable experience and their interest in STEM careers,” said Robb Butler, PPG senior regional sales manager for the Dallas and Fort Worth markets, in a release.

Illuminate STEM uses the expertise of leading robotics, science, and engineering professionals as both instructors and mentors. PPG said the grant will allow the nonprofit to serve an additional 500 students.

Taylor Lowder also contributed to this report.

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