GOLD2023

STARS To STEM, Inc.

Society Takes Action and Risks in Sciences

aka STARS To STEM, Inc.   |   Niantic, CT   |  http://www.starstostem.org

Mission

To stimulate love and excitement of scientific learning for the youngest to the oldest citizens and to enrich our community as we inspire all to reach for the stars.

Notes from the nonprofit

Stars to Stem, Inc had a very successful 2021 year of fundraising and grant awarding. We were able to purchase a portable projection system and additional software. Our planetarium Specialist and several Board members will now begin training how to use the system. We are currently in the process of writing grants and raising funds for seating and updating the Planetarium space, including ADA compliance. Our website, starstostem.org, continues to be a good resource for our organization's mission, goals and values, as well as ongoing events, current news, minutes, financials and donor information.

Ruling year info

2019

President

Diane Swan

Main address

PO Box 616

Niantic, CT 06357 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

61-1874338

NTEE code info

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (S12)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

An energetic and motivated number of East Lyme citizens are seeking to renovate an antiquated and non-functional planetarium space to create a community/regional educational asset that will provide compelling audio visual experiences. These will include various aspects of the natural and human environment such as astronomy, marine biology, human anatomy, global cultures, architecture, and many others. When coupled with appropriate curriculum and/or hands on experiences this technology will inspire, inform, educate and uplift significant populations in the region including K-12 students, college level students, hobbyists, environmentalists, agricultural, marine recreational community, senior citizens and other prospective populations.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Renovation of East Lyme High School Planetarium

The East Lyme High School planetarium was built in the 1970s and functioned as an instructional classroom until 2013. In 2016, Diane Swan, teacher and Niantic Center School’s science coordinator, discovered that the facility was going to be repurposed as a resource room for students at the high school. Furniture and equipment had been removed in 2013, and in order to restore the room as a functioning planetarium, efforts would require a complete restoration of the room. Diane was determined to save this valuable resource and to restore it as a planetarium. Funds, independent of Board of Education or local government, were needed to upgrade the facility with modern technologies and enhanced programming. In response to this need, the nonprofit organization STARS To STEM, Inc. was formed in order to raise funds to support this endeavor.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The purpose of STARS To STEM, Inc. is to support foundational science efforts, equip a workforce for a future that involves technological innovation and advancement, and enrich the populations of communities and regions with an emphasis on diversity, underserved populations, senior citizens, and other populations. The facility we envision will be an asset consistent with a renewed interest in space exploration on a national level and with sufficient support from our community and partnership with other educational institutions, businesses and not for profit organizations that could participate in this specific project.

Using the planetarium project as a spring-board, we will provide STEM educational experiences to 10,000 citizens in southeastern Connecticut by 2025. With investment in the appropriate technology (projection, software, and sound system) and in refurbishing the current location, East Lyme will house a state of the art facility (seating up to 50 people) capable of serving as a resource to the K-12 educational community at East Lyme and other districts in SE CT, potentially serving as a foundational piece of the long desired STEM Academy which conforms to national and state standards. It is also envisioned that the facility will be an attractive and desirable asset/resource for the larger community and SE CT as a whole. The technology will be flexible and customizable for uses such as family events, business training, customer meeting presentations, and other applications. Additionally, the plan is to support and surround the asset with professional staff and community volunteers to ensure that it will be efficiently managed, effectively marketed, and continuously improved as a positive and sustainable resource.

Operating from ELHS, the facility will be financed and supported by an independent, not for profit organization and board responsible for start-up costs, sustainable revenue generation, administration and continuous outreach and support to various constituencies in southeastern Connecticut. Sustainability is understood to mean that the planetarium will not only be established as high quality state of the art facility, but that annual revenues will be sufficient to meet current operating expenses as well as invest in curriculum and program expansion and upgrades to continuously improve quality and meet with changing needs over time.

The operating model will be focused on delivering quality experiences, ensuring financial sustainability, and continuously engaging with constituencies in the region to anticipate and meet new needs. Critical components of the model are:
•Superior quality projection and sound system that will be unique in the area and versatile enough to attract and serve the different populations/markets.
•Quality technical support to ensure a consistent delivery of high quality experiences.
•Regular expansion of offerings to remain up do date.
•Partnership and alignment with other educational institutions, economic development groups, private sector businesses, and interested parties.
•Consistent outreach/marketing to the community and region to stay abreast of current needs, communicate the message and promote new and innovative offerings.
•Recruiting and retaining outstanding and highly motivated, staff, board members and community volunteers who are energized by the mission and the value that the planetarium can bring the entire SE CT region.

Operations will be financially supported by multiple revenue streams from operations as well as by targeted fundraising efforts. Revenue streams would include:
•Traditional Pre K-12 school systems in SE CT.
•Higher education entities in SE CT (Conn College, Coast Guard Academy, community colleges, etc.).
•Businesses and commercial public relations and training applications
•Other non-profits
•Community memberships and customized programs

Targeted Fundraising during both start up and continuing operations will involve:
•Establishing partnerships with key community organizations and local businesses
•Developing grant proposals to solicit major funding from private and public foundations and other government entities as available
•Soliciting individual contributions and matching funds from employers
•Conducting any number of local fundraising activities such as benefit concerts, lectures, and presentation in the space.

Emerging from several community outreach sessions a committee of interested supporters met with the mission of making the vision of the planetarium a reality. One member, who played a significant role in the creation of the Children’s Museum in Niantic, partnered with a local school teacher at Niantic Center School with over 20 years of experience in education and is the organization's President, convened teams of local residents and experts in their fields. A recently retired Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Phibro Animal Health Corporation helped with the creation of a business plan, a retired educational technology specialist and grant writer helped incorporate STARS To STEM and serves as Vice President and Treasurer. A longtime resident of East Lyme is the organization's Secretary. With a BA in Astronomy and Physics from Vassar College, the organization's Education, Technology, and Programming Officer is enrolled in the Accelerated Route to Certification program pursuing her teaching certification in technology education and has been a planetarian for over 15 years. Pro bono legal advice is provided by another local resident who assisted S2S incorporate and obtain 501(c)(3) status. The organization was extremely fortunate to receive the assistance from a Consultant, Management and Fundraising for Nonprofit and Religious Organizations professional who is also a community member and graciously shared his wealth of knowledge.

Committees are as follows:
ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT, MANAGEMENT, AND EVALUATION
FUNDRAISING
EDUCATION, TECHNOLOGY AND PROGRAMMING
MARKETING AND PUBLIC AWARENESS
PLANETARIUM FACILITIES, EQUIPMENT & MAINTENANCE

More than 65 other residents of the community have come forward expressing willingness to support the planetarium project. As the project gains momentum we expect this number to multiply.

Following the assessment of the facility, determination of needs, and developing a cadre of local volunteers who share a passion and enthusiasm for the planetarium project, our organization's development was the main focus of the first year. STARS To STEM was incorporated in the State of Connecticut as a non-profit on May 4, 2018. A Business Plan and 5 year budget was completed.
List of notable accomplishments prior to and including incorporation and initial start-up year:
Accepted donation of telescope from EL Public Library
Investigated and researched various equipment
Developed bylaws, approved and submitted to record
Board of Directors nominated then voted to approve Officers (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, and Education, Technology, and Programming Officer)
Completed Federal IRS Form #1023 and received tax-exempt status
Submitted first organization report to State of CT
Created Organization Chart and Committees; formed with membership
Opened a Post Office Box in Niantic for the Organization
Opened a bank account for nonprofits
Connecticut Charity Status approved - CHR.0062295
IRS Form 990EZ filed
Reviewed existing list of grant prospects and timelines for S2S
Received first public donation to STARS to STEM, Inc.
Presented to BOE on several occasions
Conducted Planetarium Preview at existing facility at ELHS
Launched web site http://www.starstostem.org
STAR parties held at EL Library – included organization overview and view of starry skies with donated telescope.
Attended Association of Science Technology Centers Conference in Hartford http://astc.org
Met with Evans and Sutherland regarding educational programs and projector options
Continues research regarding educational programming

Financials

STARS To STEM, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

STARS To STEM, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 01/20/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Diane Swan

STARS To STEM, Inc.

Term: 2021 - 2022

Diane Swan

Linda Raffa

Leslie Brown

Sachi Vora

Gillian McMahon

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/31/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/29/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.