The Walt Disney Company is donating money to encourage the expansion of STEM curriculum for children from poor households. Pictured is Shuri, the tech genius in the movie Black Panther. The coolest character in the show, in my opinion. (Image courtesy of Disney)
What do The Incredible 2, Avengers, and Black Panther all have in common? They are all movies distributed by the Walt Disney Company. While the name Disney usually reminds people of all the animated movies from their childhood, the Walt Disney company has expanded its target audience when it acquired the Marvel studios back in 2009. Through the acquisition, Disney is only tapping into an already excited audience for super hero movies and similar genre. However, since the fusion, Disney has not seen a movie that had the same impact as Black Panther. The story of the African kingdom that was able to thrive beyond imagination because they managed to stay hidden from invaders and lived on the various uses they have for the Vibranium, their most precious resource, touched audiences around the world in more ways than expected.
The thriving kingdom of Wakanda, home to the Black Panther, is unique in so many ways, but it is the technological prowess of the kingdom that is the most striking. Granted, it is all fantasy but the idea that technology could empower the helpless is not so farfetched. That is certainly the reason Disney is donating one million dollars, to the Boys and Girls Club of America for the organization to expand its science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum.
The Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA) is an organization created back in 1860 to facilitate the academic success of young children in need, especially those from low-income households. In addition, the sister of the hero, Shuri, is portrayed as a teenager who not only is smart but gets to play a crucial role as the person in charge of managing the use of the Vibranium. Furthermore, the BGCA already discovered through a study conducted by Harvard’s education policy institute that about half of the girls in 12th grade who were exposed to the club’s STEM curriculum showed interest in furthering their education in science-related fields; as opposed to a little over 10% of girls non-members of the BGCA. In other words, with the donation from Disney, more girls have a chance at being one day their own version of Shuri.
The donation will contribute to empower children in specific cities in the country, but it will also empower future generations of women. Although the focus is on the impact of technology on the lives of those children, from seeing so many powerful women on the screen (like Shuri), BGCA might see an increase of girls participating in their program. If that happens, the BGCA could be facing a lack of resource. After all, one million is not so much considering that the BGCA has a chapter in almost every city in the country. On Natives’ lands alone, the club is servicing 90,000 children.
There is no doubt that the donation is great deed, but given that the movie grossed more than 600 million of dollars across the globe in the fourteen days after its release, it would make a bigger impact to donate more than what it is not even 1% of the revenues. The company could stand behind initiatives like the Black Panther Challenge. For example, Lupita Nyong’o, one of the main actors in the movie joined the challenge by sponsoring 600 Kenyan children in schools to watch the movie. It is probable that even in United States, there are still children who have not seen the movie. Disney could take action to make the ticket free for children living in underserved neighborhoods. Regardless of the options, the company can sure use the movie as a stepping stone to empower the powerless.
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