West Dallas STEM School Inspires Toyota’s
$110M ‘Driving Possibilities’ Program
by Kevin Cummings • Mar 3, 2022
Based on the success seen at a West Dallas school, Toyota is taking its STEM-focused educational model across the country. The Toyota USA Foundation announced the launch of a new education and community-focused initiative called Driving Possibilities. And it’s putting $110 million behind it.
“We need to better prepare the workforce of the future by providing a broader education and getting the next generation ready for high-growth careers,” said Ted Ogawa, CEO of Toyota Motor North America, in a statement. “In addition, addressing inequities that create barriers to success will help improve lives throughout the U.S.”
West Dallas origins
The company, which has its North American headquarters in Plano, said the aim of the program is to drive innovation and remove barriers to access in education, and to prepare students in pre-K through 12th grade for the workforce.
On the educational side, Driving Possibilities will be modeled after the West Dallas STEM School, which serves pre-K through 8th grade students with a project-based STEM curriculum, in addition to providing professional development to teachers and coordinating community services.
The West Dallas STEM School opened last August, supported by around $5 million in donations from Toyota and a collaboration between Dallas ISD and Southern Methodist University. In addition to offering extracurricular programs, the West Dallas school acts as a community center and food pantry.
“This partnership has afforded us the space to realize what’s possible when we focus our collective efforts on changing how we meet the needs of our students and families,” said Marion Jackson, principal at the West Dallas school, in a statement last year. “We’re committed to equipping our students to succeed in an evolving global society.”
Helping out in the community
In addition to the educational aspect, the Driving Possibilities initiative includes a focus on community engagement, with things like job training, mobility services, and food insecurity alleviation. Toyota said it’s looking to partner with other companies, local governments, educators, and nonprofits to meet those needs.
The initiative, which is being funded by Toyota Motor North America and Toyota Financial Services, will be rolling out across Toyota’s “operational communities” nationwide.
“Through our active partnerships with communities across the U.S., we collaborate to improve education and help shape the future for the next generation,” said Mark Templin, CEO at Toyota Financial Services, in a statement.