Partnering to Power the Future of Californias STEM Education

At first glance, the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet) and the California Afterschool Network may seem odd partners. One is an organization focused on boosting learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The other, a statewide network building the quality and capacity of afterschool care across the state.  But together they share a great concern about the future of California’s students and their access to high quality STEM education.

Currently, California’s students face a vexing challenge: they have too few opportunities – during the traditional school day and during out-of-school time – to participate in the hands-on exploration of science and other STEM subjects that are vital to their futures. That’s why CSLNet and the California Afterschool Network have joined together in common purpose to expand access to high quality STEM learning opportunities.

To that end, we’ve teamed up to launch The Power of Discovery: STEM2, a new initiative to greatly expand STEM Learning Opportunities for young people in out-of-school time settings. The Power of Discovery: STEM2 will build and support partnerships between schools, after school organizations, and community partners such as museums and zoos, to strengthen their capacity to provide high quality STEM Learning opportunities.  Mobilizing a broad coalition of partners, including higher education, business and industry and others with the STEM expertise and resources, this initiative will engage students in the hands-on exploration and practice of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

As a first step, with funding and support from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Noyce Foundation and the Samueli Foundation, The Power of Discovery: STEM2 initiative has funded three regional partnerships to serve as Regional Innovation Providers, offering critical support for STEM learning in selected regions across California. These regional partnerships will work to foster leadership and build effective partnerships between after school providers, schools and community organizations. Regional Innovation Providers will also support efforts to build the capacity of out-of-school time programs to expand quality STEM learning opportunities that generate interest in learning and further student understanding of the concepts of the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

The Power of Discovery: STEM2 will initially leverage more than 4,500 statewide after school programs to engage students in high quality STEM learning opportunities.  That’s a promising start, but we’re just beginning. With new partners, innovation providers and public-private-philanthropic sector collaborations, we look forward to expanding STEM in out-of-school time learning opportunities for greater and greater numbers of students, opening new doors of opportunity during and far beyond their academic careers.

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The Power of Discovery: STEM2 Regional Innovation Providers

Six talented organizations have been selected to collaborate in three regional partnerships that will serve as Regional Innovation Support Providers to expand STEM learning in California. Each organization received a grant award of $70,000 and will work collaboratively to foster leadership, build partnerships and provide capacity-building to support high quality STEM in out-of-school time programs.

Greater Bay Area

The Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE), the Gateways East Bay STEM Network and the Tech Museum of Innovation in the Silicon Valley were selected to jointly facilitate cross-sector partnerships, and provide tools, resources, and support to increase high quality STEM learning Opportunities in at least 250 after school program sites across eleven Bay Area counties including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz.

Sacramento/Northern California

The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) will work with partners such as UC Davis, the Powerhouse Science Center, SCOE’s After School Office and Science and Math Curriculum Departments to create and offer STEM training, program planning and implementation support to administrators and staff to at least 125 afterschool program sites across ten regional counties including Alpine, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba.

Orange County/San Diego

In Southern California, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) and Orange County STEM Initiative (OC STEM) will partner to increase high quality STEM learning opportunities in at least 250 after school program sites across Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego Counties. SDCOE and OC STEM will facilitate cross-sector partnerships, inclusive of institutions of higher education, industry, and community based organizations to accelerate student learning and build the capacity of out-of-school time programs to offer meaningful STEM learning opportunities.

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About Chris Roe

Christopher Roe is the CEO of the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet), a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the state’s capacity to provide high-quality learning opportunities for all of its students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the critical fields that fuel California’s dynamic economy. Roe is in charge of overseeing the creation of strategic relationships and collaborating with regional, state and national partners to establish a network that will rapidly scale innovative STEM teaching and learning across K-14 education. Prior to joining CSLNet, Roe served as the Deputy Director for the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF).

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