National Nonprofit Founded by First-Year Student to Tackle Inequality in STEM Education
When Maximilian Goetz (B’24) was a freshman in high school he tutored a second grade student through Reading Partners, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing childrens’ literacy. The student expressed frustration that he did not have many opportunities that are often taken for granted, such as owning LEGOs at home for discovery, curiosity, and play. This disparity inspired Goetz to research the issue more and he quickly discovered a lack of afterschool STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs at underserved schools.
“Many students do not have exposure to robotics so they don’t know if it’s something that they want to pursue,” said Goetz. “Additionally, learning robotics through simple toys like LEGOs develops logical and creative thinking skills, which are important in many disciplines.”
Recognizing the importance of these quantitative skills, Goetz sought to close this gap for students like the one he tutored. He founded Robotics For All in April 2017 at Mariano Castro Elementary School in Mountain View, California.
By October 2018, the future Hoya had registered it as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Robotics for All is a nonprofit organization that strives to provide equitable educational opportunities to students of all backgrounds, particularly low-income and underrepresented students, with an emphasis on teaching the fields of STEM. Students gain beneficial quantitative skills that will aid them in their academic and professional careers going forward. Goetz and his team train and recruit qualified volunteers to teach their pre-established 12-step curriculum. They also secure funding to provide the necessary materials for their lessons.
Goetz has not let the on-going pandemic hinder the growth of his nonprofit. In fact, the program has only expanded more as they have moved to an entirely virtual learning environment for the time being. Goetz also expressed his excitement towards working closely with the Georgetown community as he juggles his class work with his responsibility as founder, president, and chief executive officer.
“The Georgetown Entrepreneurship Center has been an incredibly valuable resource for Robotics For All,” said Goetz. “We have spoken to several entrepreneurs in residence and asked for advice on questions like financial growth and creating press materials.”
The program has grown since its initial founding in 2017, with 1,296 elementary school participants and 240 volunteers. Robotics for All also has expanded beyond robotics and now offers programs such as Tutoring for All and Mentoring for All. The latter pairs high school students with college mentors to guide them through the school year.
“As we have grown, it’s been inspiring and satisfying to see so many other people share my vision,” he said. “Robotics For All is by no means a single-person effort — it’s the collective efforts of our now over 240 volunteers coming together and working toward a common goal.”
Reflecting on the impact that this socially minded endeavor has had on him, Goetz noted the sense of fulfillment he has felt. For him, it’s always been about the students.
“From the very beginning, I have always enjoyed being in the classroom,” he said. “One of the best feelings is seeing the smile light up on a students’ faces when they finally understand a difficult concept.”