Disney said Monday it would donate $1 million of the proceeds from “Black Panther” to Science, Technology & Maths (STEM) programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, in a nod to one of the movie’s key themes: how technology can empower young people from marginalized communities.
The blockbuster film is set in Wakanda, a country whose surplus of the fictional metal vibranium has enriched it tremendously. Many of the technologies in the film are invented or controlled by Shuri, the sister of T’Challa, the Black Panther and Wakanda’s king. Shuri, 16, plays a similar role to “Q” from the James Bond films, providing her brother and the kingdom with vibranium-powered vehicles, weapons and other innovations.
Disney/Marvel Studios, via Associated Press
In a statement, the chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, Robert A. Iger, said it was thrilling to see how much the technology in the film had excited young audiences.
“It’s fitting that we show our appreciation by helping advance STEM programs for youth, especially in underserved areas of the country, to give them the knowledge and tools to build the future they want,” he said.
The $1 million pledged by Disney is only a fraction of the money that the film has brought in. In less than two weeks in theaters, “Black Panther”
made more than $700 million worldwide, making it one of the fastest grossing films ever.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a federated organization with independent clubs in cities around the country, said the money would be used to create new STEM innovation centers in 12 cities. Those cities include Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, Washington and Oakland, Calif., where the director of “Black Panther,” Ryan Coogler, was born and where some of the film takes place.
The organization’s STEM curriculum gives young people the chance at an early age to have hands-on experiences, like building bridges and light bulbs and creating rock candy, Ms. Booth said. Children then move on to programs that focus on computer and environmental science and digital literacy.
The Boys & Girls Clubs worked with Partnerships in Education and Resilience, the education policy institute at Harvard University, and found that 12th graders in Boys and Girls Clubs were almost twice as likely than their peers to be interested in a STEM career. Fifty percent of girls who participated reported interest, compared with 12 percent of their peers nationwide.
Disney’s donation imitates the end of the film. Shuri and T’Challa arrive in the United States, landing on a basketball court in Oakland. As a part of a new decree, T’Challa places his sister in charge of global outreach around technology, giving underserved kids the chance to benefit from Wakanda’s riches.