A new grant competition will award $150,000 to libraries, museums, and other nonprofits to provide hands-on learning opportunities this summer for youth across the country to help make the online experience more civil, safe and empowering. The Project:Connect Summer Youth Programming Competition is administered by the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC), with support from the MacArthur Foundation through a grant to the University of California, Irvine, and in partnership with the Born This Way Foundation. Grants will support a series of local hands-on events July through September where young people collaborate and compete through activities such as hackathons, maker spaces, digital journalism and communications labs, and mentoring workshops. Programs must be based on the understanding that learning happens anywhere, anytime and should be equitable, social, participatory, and reflect kids’ interests. Applications are due June 10. More information can be found on the Digital Media and Learning Competition website.
As you've probably heard by now, we've partnered with the Noyce Foundation to offer the Afterschool STEM Impact Awards. We are inviting applications for two $10,000 awards to recognize afterschool STEM programs that are showing great youth outcomes. We have started to receive applications and I hope that we get a lot more! It's a terrific opportunity to showcase your great program, help us highlight why afterschool must be an integral partner in STEM education, AND win $10,000 for your program.
Eligible programs must have been running for two years and working with students in grades 4 through 8. We invite applications in two categories:
- Afterschool programs that are a strong partnership between an afterschool provider and a STEM-rich institution(s), which include science centers or museums, nature centers, universities, government labs, STEM-related businesses, or other similar institutions. Programs may focus on any STEM topic.
- Afterschool programs that have a strong computing and/or engineering component.
We recently held a webinar to answer questions and go over the review criteria we will utilize for the STEM Impact Awards. You may also be interested in taking a look at the slides from our prior webinar on “Defining youth outcomes for afterschool STEM programs” available on the same "Archived Webinars" page.
Additional details are available on the award website, along with a link to the online application. Applications are due by May 15, so don’t delay! We encourage all applicants to review the questions and generate their responses prior to beginning the online application. Once you begin filling out the online application, you must finish. Answers cannot be saved or returned to at a later date.
We look forward to receiving your applications and learning more about the terrific programs engaging our young people in innovative STEM learning experiences all across the country.
Earlier this month, Champions® and the National AfterSchool Association released their second annual “Out-of-School Time Survey.” The survey found an overwhelming majority of elementary and middle school superintendents believe in the academic, social and behavioral benefits afterschool programs provide to their students. In addition to viewing afterschool programs as an environment where children can improve their core academic skills—such as reading, math and science—96 percent of superintendents agree that the most important afterschool programs improve study skills and more than 9 in 10 superintendents surveyed agree that the most important afterschool programs increase students’ social interactions and engagement (92 percent). More than 4 in 5 superintendents say that the most important afterschool programs are those that offer activities not present during the traditional school day (82 percent).
A key take away from this survey is that school superintendents understand the true value of afterschool programs and recognize that schools and students benefit from support of afterschool programs. Schools aren’t alone in the charge to ensure that all students receive a quality and well-rounded education. Afterschool programs are able and willing partners to prepare students for success in school, career and life.
The president recently released his budget request for FY2014 and we wrote about the implications for afterschool in a recent blog post. The budget proposes a sweeping (and unprecedented) reorganization of federal STEM education investments—it consolidates or restructures 114 programs out of the existing 226 federal STEM programs. In the budget proposal, 78 programs are terminated and the funds from these programs ($176 million dollars) are redirected to other agencies, 49 programs are consolidated within agencies and 13 new programs have been proposed.
The $176 million from the eliminated programs would be split as follows:
- $100.3 million to the Department of Education for K-12 education programs
- $51.1 million to the National Science Foundation for undergraduate education and fellowship programs
- $25 million to the Smithsonian Institution for a new STEM engagement initiative
There are several places to get the full details of the president’s budget request for STEM education—the White House R&D budget site and the American Institute of Physics FYI analysis are good places to start.
Today the president released his budget request for the upcoming 2014 fiscal year, which begins this October. With regard to support for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, the president requested $1.25 billion—reflecting an increase of $100 million from FY2012 levels (pre-sequester levels). As was the case in his budget request last year, the president proposes to radically change 21st CCLC to a competitive grant at the federal level as well as prioritizing 21st CCLC grant funding for new purposes including adding time to the traditional school day or year, and for teacher planning and professional development.
In a challenging budget environment in which many programs face consolidation or elimination, the proposed increase in 21st CCLC in the budget request demonstrates the importance and value of expanded learning opportunities. Unfortunately, in the budget documents and most notably in the budget justification, the president makes the preference for expanded learning time (ELT) clear by indicating that unless ESEA is reauthorized before FY2014 begins, the Administration will request authority to use the $100 million increase for competitive grants to support ELT models.
The Afterschool Alliance supports 21st CCLC funds being directed to high-quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that focus on hands-on, engaged learning that complements and enhances but does not replicate the traditional school day. While not mentioned in the president’s budget, the Afterschool Alliance feels strongly that 21st CCLC funding should continue to support the partnerships between schools and community- and faith-based organizations that help children improve academically, socially and behaviorally while parents are at work. For more information on expanded learning, see our expanded learning resource page.
This week, 20 youth finalist teams will meet at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, for the Conrad Foundation’s 2013 Innovation Summit. Teams will present their designs of a “global innovation product” developed for the Spirit of Innovation Challenge to a panel of scientists, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and government officials. Challenged to create commercially viable products to address issues of global sustainability, teams applied their STEM knowledge in innovative ways, developing products for one of four categories—Aerospace and Aviation; Cybertechnology and Security; Energy and Environment; and Health and Nutrition. These young entrepreneurs will undergo a tough evaluation on technical content and market viability from an expert panel, and the winning team in each category will receive a $10,000 grant to continue their product development.
I spoke with one of the teams, Chicks in Space, a subset of the Neighborhood After School Science Association (NASSA) from Ava, NY. MaryAnn, Lillith and Adia—ages 17, 14 and 12, respectively—are among the 5 teams competing in the Aerospace and Aviation category. Their product, the Garden of ETON (Extraterrestrial Organic Nutrition), provides a way for astronauts weary of dehydrated foods to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Through a series of experiments on plant growth in microgravity conditions, Chicks in Space developed a hydroponic gardening system that can be used in space! Their original submission video, below, follows the research and development process of the Garden of ETON.