Expansion of STEM AmeriCorps Announced at White House Science Fair

Apr 13, 2016


New partnerships with the New York Academy of Sciences, the STEM Funders Network, and the Afterschool Alliance will advance initiative President Obama launched in 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – As part of today’s White House Science Fair, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, announced major expansions of STEM AmeriCorps that will support STEM mentoring opportunities for young people. This $2.5 million expansion includes two new programs that are the result of new partnerships with the New York Academy of Sciences, as well as the Afterschool Alliance and the STEM Funders Network.

Through a partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences, CNCS will place more than 10 AmeriCorps VISTA members in afterschool STEM mentoring programs in 60 of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City and Newark, N.J. The AmeriCorps VISTA members will recruit, train, and place scientists as mentors in high-poverty schools and community based organizations to demonstrate the opportunities in STEM-related fields for students. This 3-year program will benefit 2,600 school-aged children in 130 classrooms with 260 scientist mentors.

“AmeriCorps members are improving the lives of millions of citizens and having a positive and lasting impact on the toughest challenges facing our communities,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “By strengthening STEM education for students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, STEM AmeriCorps will spark greater interest in math and science and build ladders of opportunity these students might otherwise never have. The new partnerships with the New York Academy of Sciences, the Afterschool Alliance, and the STEM Funders Network are another step forward in achieving this mission.”

“If you look at some of the world’s greatest challenges – hunger and obesity, Alzheimer’s disease and our aging population, energy and water shortages – you’ll find New York Academy of Sciences Members at the forefront of the search for innovative solutions. It comes as no surprise that our Members want to be a part of solving the STEM education crisis,” said Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO, The New York Academy of Sciences. “Over 1000 Academy Members have already volunteered to teach and mentor kids through the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program. This generous grant from CNCS will build our capacity to bring this experience to thousands more, and help inspire the next generation of STEM innovators.”

STEM Ecosystems, an initiative supported by a new partnership between CNCS, the Afterschool Alliance, and the STEM Funders Network, will place up to 28 AmeriCorps VISTA members in as many as 14 communities across the nation to create and connect STEM-rich learning environments, equip educators, support youth pathways, and cultivate cross-sector partnerships. Built on more than a decade of research of successful collaborations, the STEM Ecosystems Initiative seeks to nurture and scale effective STEM learning opportunities for all young people. These collaborations happen inside and outside the classroom—in afterschool and summer programs, at home, in science centers, libraries and other places both virtual and physical.

“Over the past year, the STEM Funders Network has supported the cultivation and design of STEM Learning Ecosystems across the country, ensuring that STEM learning is truly ‘everywhere’ and is a top priority for communities supporting youth to develop the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful and competitive in our changing global workforce landscape,” said Gerald Solomon, Executive Director of the Samueli Foundation and Co-Chair of the STEM Funders Network. “Partnering with the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Afterschool Alliance to help bring AmeriCorps VISTA members to the initiative is critical to further cultivation of STEM Learning Ecosystems, impacting thousands of children and youth through integrated STEM learning settings.”

“Afterschool programs, with their emphasis on engaged, hands-on learning, are a dynamic and effective setting for innovative STEM education,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “We’re delighted to be able to partner with the Corporation for National and Community Service and the STEM Funders Network to expand STEM learning opportunities and strengthen afterschool’s role as partners in the STEM learning ecosystem. Adding AmeriCorps VISTAs and STEM education opportunities to communities in need will better position young people to thrive in the global workforce of tomorrow. Giving young people more STEM learning opportunities benefits all of us.”

First announced by President Obama at the White House Science Fair in 2013, STEM AmeriCorps is a multi-year effort that has placed hundreds of AmeriCorps members in nonprofits across the country, mobilizing STEM professionals to inspire young people. Current STEM AmeriCorps initiatives include partnerships with FIRST, Maker Education Initiative, Citizen Schools, US2020, Teach for America, Best Buy, and other organizations – efforts collectively engaging tens of thousands of students in STEM learning.

The Obama Administration has made STEM education a major priority.  In 2009, the President launched “Educate to Innovate,” a nationwide effort to ensure all students have the tools to be innovators and problem solvers, and in this year’s State of the Union address, the President called on education, business, and nonprofit leaders to help give every child the opportunity to learn computer science.

Today’s announcements build on recent commitments from CNCS that underscore the President’s belief that the Nation’s students have the potential to help make our country, and our world, a better place. In January, CNCS announced Computer Science Teachers AmeriCorps, a partnership with the National Science Foundation, as part of the Administration’s Computer Science for All initiative. The $17 million commitment from CNCS will support the training of teachers in computer science to meet the current level of interest by students who seek more advanced instruction in computer science skills, such as coding. As part of the Administration’s ConnectALL effort, CNCS also recently announced a new partnership with Institute of Museum and Library Sciences that will utilize AmeriCorps members to increase access to digital literacy tools in tribal and rural communities.  

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