STEM Synergy was inspired by the science and academic enrichment programs at the Yemin Orde Youth Village ("YOYV") in Israel. Half of the village's resident students are of Ethiopian heritage, some are of mixed African origin, and most students are considered at-risk.
In 2004, the Gelfand Family Charitable Trust established the village's Science Center. That new technical facility encouraged the Ethiopian immigrant students to dream of sophisticated engineering through participation in the international FIRST Robotics Competition. The team showed energy and skill with their evolving robotics designs. By their seventh year of participation in the FIRST Competition, the students won top prize in Israel -- an incredible achievement.
As the Ethiopian students' Robotics Team was earning increasingly impressive awards in Israel, their success also paved the way for establishing STEM as an educational endeavor in their homeland. STEM Synergy became a successor of the Gelfand initiatives in Ethiopia and adjoining nations.