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Karen and Joe DiVito
What they support:
STEM Equity and Inclusion Endowment
Why it matters:
“What we hope for children who get an opportunity to participate in programs at the Science Center is that something piques an interest and they want to come back.”
It was in the early 1990s that Karen and Joe DiVito first locked eyes at a Carnegie On Tap event, a young professionals happy hour held at the Carnegie Museums in Oakland. More than 30 years and three children later, the longtime members of Carnegie Museums decided to take stock of their connection with the organization that helped bring them together.
“We started to talk about our support of the museums and the role the museums have played in our lives and our children’s lives,” Joe says.
“We always took our kids to the museums, and I think those experiences helped shape them,” says Karen. “They were always being exposed to new things.”
It’s that kind of exposure to the new and the different that the couple locked in on as they considered where they would direct their future giving.
“Over the past 15 years or so, we have really rethought how we give and what’s important to us,” Joe says. “We tried to think of community issues that are personally important to us. And we also like to be able to measure—we like to see the impact.”
They found such an opportunity in STEM learning—science, technology, engineering, and math—at Carnegie Science Center. They wondered how they could help make those programs more accessible to all kids.
“We’ve been fortunate,” Karen says. “All three of our kids, heading into college, had a path; something they thought that they wanted to pursue. All different. But in my mind, I have to believe there’s a connection between their exposure to so many things growing up.
“Not all kids have those opportunities—just for random and diverse exposures,” she adds. “Maybe a child revisits something when they are 15 years old that they experienced when they were 10. So, Joe and I, as parents, made the connection that all these exposures for our kids have laid a foundation for them. We expect them to grow up and be productive, contributing adults, and not just for themselves but their community. So, we’re laying that foundation.”
By establishing a STEM Equity and Inclusion Endowment, they see their contributions extending far into the future.
“We wanted to create something that lived longer than one year and that would support this idea beyond just, hey, here’s a one-year gift,” says Joe. “Something that would allow for the support of STEM programs for children over a longer period of time.
“What we hope for children who get an opportunity to participate in programs at the Science Center is that something piques an interest and they want to come back. And then their teacher maybe recognizes that interest and steers them to build on that interest. It’s about giving them the opportunity to see something that’s new to them, whether it’s by offsetting tuition or making seats available to kids who might otherwise not get to participate in a program. That was really appealing to us.”
Karen and Joe admit they’ve had some of their most productive discussions about how to make their giving matter while on regularly scheduled date nights. “Aren’t we exciting?” Karen laughs.
“We conduct a lot of our family business on date nights,” Joe notes. “We try to be thoughtful in what’s important to us. We’ll sit down and talk. And we get into alignment pretty quickly on things. Maybe that’s why we’ve been together for 31 years.
“We talk a lot about things we see happening around us and in our community. So, this endowment is a product of that, and a great opportunity to do something different.”
To learn more about giving opportunities at Carnegie Museums, contact Beth Brown at email@example.com or 412.622.8859.
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