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Soap Box Derby continues Impacting Community Through Racing and STEM Education Programs


The International Soap Box Derby’s used Derby Downs for more than 70 events and over 10,000 trips down its historic track by community members and visitors as reported in the recently released Annual Report. Over 600 schools and 10,000 students are participating in the International Soap Box Derby’s STEM education programs. The All-American Racing program has more than 95 race districts which conducted 1,299 races with over 3,500 youth competing.

“The Derby had a great year financially with the assistance of our partners, but most of all, our staff continued to provide great service for Derby Nation and all those who visited Derby Downs,” stated Board Chair Gregg Mervis.

In Fall, 2016, the Derby expanded and released new STEM curriculum. This curriculum, developed through collaboration with leading area STEM educators, included five modules designed to be cross curricular, project based, and standards aligned. 

In Fall, 2017, the Mini Soap Box Derby STEM program was introduced. The Derby continues to expand its reach of its STEM education programs worldwide in schools, after school programs, youth organizations, and at-risk youth settings. Expansion and adoption of these STEM programs occurred in Ohio cities: Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, and Marysville as well as New York City, Rochester, New York, and northern Virginia area.

“The Derby continues to impact our community and youth.  The strong programs have enabled the Derby to increase its reach to the community and provide resources for youth. We are excited with the progress that has been made in the past year with continuing our strong mission in assisting youth through racing, our STEM education programs, and experiences for all persons at our track,” stated President & CEO Mark Gerberich.

Through the annual United Way Corporate Derby Challenge presented by Fallsway Equipment Company fundraiser held at Derby Downs, the Derby impacted youth programs in the Akron area.  These youth programs included: Man Up, Launch Kenmore, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve and YMCA of Firestone. The Derby also provided nearly $10,000 in support to youth organizations. The Derby provided Soap Box Derby cars to schools and organizations to be able to participate in the Gravity Racing Challenge STEM Team Competition presented by the University of Akron College of Engineering, to host field trips for youth groups to Derby Downs, and to provide the Mini Soap Box Derby Cars program to schools and youth organizations.