Policies impacting afterschool STEM

Get to know current legislation and take action!

With science and technology being key drivers of economic growth, strengthening STEM education is a national priority. Educate yourself about policies and legislation that can support afterschool STEM learning.

On this page you can learn about policies and legislation that impact afterschool STEM learning. You will find the latest list of STEM bills we are following, big initiatives that are driving policy and an archive of reports and policy recommendations frequently referenced by policy makers. If you would like to become an advocate for afterschool STEM learning when you have read through this material, please go to the Afterschool STEM Hub where you will not only find messaging resources but also targeted advocacy materials you can use to contact policymakers.

Federal Legislation

There are three pieces of federal legislation the Afterschool Alliance is tracking, as they have to potential to generate new resources and opportunities for afterschool STEM.

  1. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is the new education law of the United States. It replaced the previous version, commonly known as “No Child Left Behind” and passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress.In addition to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding stream, the new law includes a flexible block grant under Title IV Part A, called “Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants.” This funding stream can be used to support STEM programming in afterschool and specifically calls out supporting student participation in non-profit STEM competitions, hands-on learning and integrating classroom and afterschool/informal STEM instruction.

  2. The “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act”which is better known as the Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) bill, is currently up for reauthorization. 

  3. The America COMPETES Act authorizes the various federal science mission agencies, such as NASA, NOAA, NSF, and the Department of Energy, including their significant investments in STEM education. This bill is currently up for reauthorization. 

White House STEM Initiatives

  • CS for All: Computer Science for All is the President’s bold new initiative to empower all American students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science and be equipped with the computational thinking skills they need to be creators in the digital economy, not just consumers, and to be active citizens in our technology-driven world.

  • Educate to Innovate: A campaign that rallies the federal government, leading companies, foundations, non-profits, and science and engineering societies to support students in STEM.

  • 100kin10: An initiative to train and retain 100,000 excellent science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers within 10 years.

Important policy documents

These reports and documents are helpful reference points for understanding federal policy and iniatives. They are used by policy makers to write legislation and to justify funding levels for certain programs.

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Federal Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education 5-Year Strategic Plan (May 2013)

The Committee on STEM Education is an inter-agency committee created by the America Competes Reauthorization Act of 2010 and tasked with looking at Federal investments in STEM Education to strengthen America's historic strengths in STEM fields and grow the STEM workforce.  Included in the goals and recommendations are investments in informal STEM education at the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution.  In this report, the Smithsonian was suggested as a hub for informal STEM education in the Federal government.

Federal Policy STEM


Afterschool programs as partners in STEM education: Policy recommendations (October 2012)

Afterschool programs all around the nation are engaging children in hands-on STEM programs and getting them excited about STEM fields and careers. These policy recommendations aim to help afterschool programs reach their maximum potential and become integral partners in addressing the nations STEM education needs.

Advocacy Federal Policy STEM State Policy


STEM Education: Strategic planning needed to better manage overlapping programs across multiple agencies, a GAO Report (2012)

In this intitial report from the US Government Accountability Office, all Federal STEM programs were surveyed to find overlapping programs and areas for collaboration between programs or agencies.  Since this report agencies have begun voluntary, inter-agency consolidation and collaboration to better improve the efficiency of STEM programs. 



The Changing Federal STEM Education Effort

This document from the Congressional Research Service outlines efforts by the Federal agencies to reorganize STEM programs and reduce the total number in order to increase efficiency.



The Federal Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Portfolio (December 2011)

This report details the results of the initial Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) inventory of Federal STEM education investments. The Fast-Track Action Committee on Federal Investment in STEM Education was chartered to develop the inventory process, analyze the inventory results, and draft the inventory report with the oversight of the CoSTEM.