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STEM Policy

Improving and enhancing STEM education is a national priority.  There is bipartisan support for this issue among policymakers driven by the understanding that science and technology drive economic growth and a strong education in these topics is essential to meet the demands of the 21st century workplace.  The Obama Administration’s Educate to Innovate campaign demonstrates the priority given to this issue at the highest levels by a variety of stakeholders.  There is also a growing realization that out-of-school-time environments such as afterschool programs provide an ideal setting to engage children and youth in STEM topics and spark their interest.  Several recently released influential reports, such as the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report, specifically call out afterschool programs as partners in the STEM education agenda. 

STEM education policy is embedded in a variety of initiatives and legislation:

  • Reports such as the PCAST report and others listed in our Resources section will drive STEM education policy in the coming year(s).
  • The Department of Education has made STEM a priority in several of its funding initiatives such as Race to the Top and the Investing in Innovation fundESEA reauthorization will also affect STEM education policy.   
  • Federal science agencies such as the National Science Foundation and NASA already invest heavily in STEM education. 
  • The America COMPETES Act explicitly calls for coordination of the investment in STEM education through the various federal science agencies and provides an opportunity for the afterschool community to become a visible and integral part of the STEM education efforts. 

In addition, there is a great deal of activity at the state and local levels to advance STEM education.  States such as California and Rhode Island are leading the way to set up systems that will allow for wide spread implementation of STEM programs in afterschool programs all over their states.  New York City has a robust system for STEM education in afterschool and their model will be expanded to include other cities shortly.  Corporations and philanthropic foundations are also invested heavily in STEM education efforts all across the nation.

STEM education policy will be an extremely active area in the coming year(s) and the Afterschool Alliance is taking the lead to advance federal policies that ensure afterschool programs will be an integral part of the STEM education agenda.  Keep checking back to learn about the latest developments as we all work to prepare the next generation of STEM professionals.