The Afterschool Alliance has joined forces with the National AfterSchool Association and National Summer Learning Association to step up efforts to promote STEM learning in afterschool and summer programs. Through a generous grant from the Noyce Foundation, these three leading afterschool and summer learning organizations have pledged to make 2011 the Year of Science in afterschool. A recently released position paper lays out this commitment.
Studies estimate that nearly 80% of future jobs and careers will require a workforce that is literate and proficient in STEM fields. This is an area of national need that is receiving significant attention and bipartisan support in Congress. Schools alone cannot take on the task of preparing our children and youth to access these future jobs and careers. Afterschool and summer programs already play a major role in engaging and exciting students about STEM through hands-on experiential projects that are complementary to the learning that occurs during the school day. Children can explore STEM topics of their choosing and undertake projects that show the relevance of these fields in their daily lives. Developing such an appreciation and interest is the key to getting them to pursue STEM fields and careers.
Together, the three organizations pledge to leverage our organizational resources and our tens of thousands of program partners to increase awareness within our communities about quality STEM learning opportunities and bring much-needed media and policymaker attention to the innovative programming offered in this space. Our work is already underway and we look forward to delivering on our promise to make 2011 the Year of Science in afterschool.