"I'm proud to announce... a new AmeriCorps program that’s going to connect more professional scientists and engineers to young students who might follow in their footsteps."
– President Barack Obama, White House Science Fair, April 22, 2013
In 2009, President Obama launched “Educate to Innovate,” a nationwide effort to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade. A growing number of jobs require STEM skills, and America needs a world-class STEM workforce to address the challenges of the 21st century.
In response to this national need, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has placed a priority on using national service to spur greater interest by K-12 students in the STEM professions (science, technology, engineering, and math).
In April, 2013 at the White House Science Fair, President Obama announced STEM AmeriCorps, a multi-year initiative to place hundreds of AmeriCorps members in nonprofits across the country to inspire young people to excel in STEM education.
STEM AmeriCorps advances the goals of the President’s Task Force on Expanding National Service to build public private partnerships that expand opportunities for Americans to serve and increase the impact citizens have on our communities and nation.
The goals of STEM AmeriCorps are to:
- Improve academic performance and engagement in STEM coursework for K-12 students
- Increase the number of students on track to graduate ready for college and for careers in STEM fields, including those populations who typically participate at lower rates
- Spark the imagination and interest of students to pursue STEM careers
By strengthening STEM education for students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, STEM AmeriCorps is sparking greater interest in math and science and building ladders of opportunity these students might otherwise never have.
STEM AmeriCorps is also helping our nation compete for the jobs and industries of the future by encouraging more students to go into STEM professions.
STEM AmeriCorps: Partnerships in Action
Whether through engaging STEM professionals as mentors, increasing the number of STEM teachers and teacher support services in the classroom, or creating a community of makers, STEM AmeriCorps is improving the level of STEM education in America. Here are examples of STEM AmeriCorps in action:
STEM AmeriCorps VISTA Southern Initiative: In the summer of 2014, as part of a majo expansion of STEM AmeriCorps, CNCS will place 256 AmeriCorps VISTA members in six Southern states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and West Virginia. These AmeriCorps VISTAS members will connect approximately 18,000 at-risk students in low-performing schools to STEM opportunities. The AmeriCorps members will serve with community groups, educational institutions, and corporate sponsors that are committed to sharing their expertise to inspire new discovery and increase the students’ chances for academic achievement. This initiative will make it possible for students to learn about and build robots, engage with community members to solve challenging STEM tasks, write code that will be uploaded to the International Space Station, participate in a “scientist-for-a-day” program that explores various careers, and learn about food production.
US2020: Led by US2020, seven American cities are launching new campaigns this year to connect passionate STEM employees from local companies to students in their region, including: Allentown, PA; Chicago, IL; Indianapolis, IN; Research Triangle Park, NC; Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco, CA; and Wichita, KS. Sponsored by Cisco and launched at last year’s White House Science Fair, the US2020 City Competition challenged cities to develop innovative models for scaling STEM mentorship for young students in STEM, particularly for girls, underrepresented minorities, and children from low-income families. CNCS partnered with US2020 and Citizen Schools to support 25 AmeriCorps VISTA members, an investment of more than $550,000, to do the important work of engaging communities in this STEM mentoring initiative. Fifteen of these capacity-builders will serve in the winning cities, while 10 will support efforts nationwide. The long-term goal of US2020 is to mobilize 1 million STEM mentors annually by the year 2020. Partners include Cisco, Cognizant, Raytheon, SanDisk, Tata Consultancy Services, Chevron, and Discovery Communications.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology): FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA members serve in low income communities across the country and inspire an appreciation of STEM subjects in young people through FIRST robotics competitions. A focus on bringing FIRST programs to under-represented populations within these communities makes it possible for more students to be exposed to STEM activities. AmeriCorps VISTA members recruit volunteers and support the teams of students in the competitions.
Citizen Schools: As a part of its Science and Technology Initiative, Citizen Schools deploys full-time AmeriCorps members to narrow the achievement gap by expanding the learning day. AmeriCorps members lead hands-on learning activities in intensive extended-day programs that partner with high-need middle schools across eight states. Members also recruit volunteers to share their experience and expertise with students by teaching engaging “apprenticeship” courses.
Maker Education Initiative: The Maker Education Initiative is utilizing AmeriCorps VISTA members to develop thriving Maker Hubs within ten high poverty urban and rural communities. The Maker AmeriCorps VISTA program increases opportunities for high poverty youth to engage in making activities that ultimately increase academic engagement in each Hub.
Teach for America STEM Initiative: Teach for America has created a targeted STEM initiative that is designed to recruit, train and support Teach for America AmeriCorps members with backgrounds in these fields to become effective STEM educators and leaders in the classroom, especially in low income rural and urban communities. Today, Teach for America is one of the largest providers of STEM teachers in the country.
- 2014 PRESS RELEASE: National Service Agency Announces Expansion of STEM AmeriCorps
- BLOGPOST: Corporation for National and Community Service and Women’s History Month
- BLOGPOST: Why STEM Education Matters
- 2013 PRESS RELEASE: President Obama Announces STEM AmeriCorps to Inspire Young People's Interest in Science and Technology
CNCS is looking to generate large scale impact for STEM education through public-private partnerships to offer engaging educational programs for students nationwide. If you have questions or would like discuss potential partnerships, please contact:
Senior Advisor, Partnerships and Advancement