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Administration and tech sector commit to STEM and computer science education

By Stephanie Rodriguez

On September 25, the White House released a Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Education acknowledging that too many of our kids lack access to high-quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, including computer science (CS).

Pointing to the alarming truth that 40 percent of high schools do not offer physics and 60 percent do not offer computer science1,2—a lack of access that is exacerbated in rural, low income, and minority communities—the memo directs the Department of Education to prioritize STEM education efforts in the federal grant making, with particular emphasis on CS. Specifically, the Secretary of Education is directed to reallocate at least $200 million of existing funds each year toward CS and STEM education and teacher recruitment and training, beginning in FY18. The memo was signed in the presence of students from Boys and Girls Clubs in Maryland.

On the heels of this memorandum came loud support from the tech industry. On September 26, representatives from the private sector gathered in Detroit, Mich., and together pledged an additional $300 million over five years in money, technology, and volunteers to support K-12 CS learning. This commitment, championed by Ivanka Trump, is fueled by several tech giants including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Salesforce, to name a few. The afterschool voice was well represented, with both Namrata Gupta (executive director of After-School All-Stars Bay Area) and Michael Beckerman (president and CEO of the Internet Association and board member for the national After-School All-Stars) in attendance. While the exact recipients of this commitment are not known at this time, some companies, like Microsoft and Salesforce, will continue supporting their ongoing CS investments in programs and organizations such as TEALS,, and others.

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learn more about: White House STEM Computer Science


Introducing Stephanie Rodriguez, the new Director of STEM Policy

By Stephanie Rodriguez

Hi! Stephanie Rodriguez here, the new Director of STEM Policy at the Afterschool Alliance. I’m incredibly excited to advocate for the importance of out-of-school time STEM learning and its role in encouraging students to engage in and pursue activities and careers in STEM fields. My personal, lived experience with informal STEM learning experiences fuels my passion for afterschool STEM and brought me to the Afterschool Alliance, where I will work to impact policies that support opportunities for all youth to engage with STEM learning.

I join the Afterschool Alliance fresh off my tenure as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation, where I worked on efforts to broaden participation in computer science and other STEM fields. Prior to the fellowship, I completed my PhD in immunology at Washington University in St. Louis where I studied the T-cell development process and devised innovative strategies to watch this phenomenon in live animals in real time using advanced microscopy techniques. While at WashU I also directed the Young Scientist Program, a 25-year-old program that engages St. Louis public school teachers and students in hands-on STEM experiences while providing critical resources to a community in need.

My own path to becoming a scientist was 100% paved by STEM experiences external to the classroom. In high school, I was part of an authentic research experience working at a Ball State University biochemistry lab through a program aimed at getting girls and underrepresented groups into STEM fields. The experience got me hooked on STEM, built my resume, connected me with mentors, and expanded my human capital and network. If not for that invaluable experience, I would not have been exposed to the STEM research enterprise nor had the confidence and interest to consider a career in a STEM field.

Afterschool STEM engagement is an opportunity all students should have access to and I am eager to jump into my new role and support policies that will make that happen!

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learn more about: Inside the Afterschool Alliance