Victories for STEM education in recent legislative activity

READ FULL STORY

Victories for STEM education in recent legislative activity

As the legislative season winds down, several wins for afterschool STEM education have emerged. Most recently, on July 13-14 the House Appropriations Committee marked up the fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill. The bill maintains funding for 21st CCLC at the current level of $1.16 billion, which is very good news! As you might recall, the Senate version of the bill cut afterschool by $117 million, in line with President Obama's budget request.

Informal STEM education has bright outlook in new bills

STEM is increasingly an integral part of afterschool programs, so the House's proposed funding level for 21st CCLC will ensure that millions of children will continue to have access to STEM learning opportunities. The House education spending bill also provides $1 billion for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program, the new block grant in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Although this is lower than the authorized level of $1.65 billion, the House appropriation puts the funding at $700 million over the Senate LHHS bill and $500 million above the President’s budget request. STEM education advocates are breathing a collective sigh of relief, as this grant was designed to be a formula grant for districts to use toward a wide range of activities, including STEM programing (with very supportive language about partnerships with afterschool programs), arts education and counseling services. House appropriators have indicated their strong support for the initiative with this funding level, but the final outcome is far from guaranteed as the Senate and House numbers will have to be reconciled eventually.

On July 7, 2016, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a full committee markup of H.R. 5587, The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Actwhich you may know better as the Perkins CTE bill. The update includes changes that recognize the role of afterschool and summer programs in preparing young people for the workforce, and explicitly includes community-based organizations as eligible entities for funding. The bill has provisions for states to award grants that provide “support for programs and activities that increase access, student engagement, and success in STEM fields (including computer science), especially for underrepresented groups.” This provision could be very beneficial for afterschool STEM programs, especially when combined with the new expanded eligibility for starting these activities in the 5th grade (compared to the previous limit of 7th grade). 

Finally, the Senate Commerce Committee marked up S. 3084, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which encompasses plan to reauthorize the America COMPETES Actin late June. This bill authorizes the various federal science mission agencies, such as NASA, NOAA, NSF, Dept. of Energy etc., including their significant investments in STEM education. There are several key elements of the bill that are supportive of informal/afterschool STEM programming:

  • The bill calls for the creation of an external advisory panel to advise the Committee on STEM Education of the National Science and Technology Council (CoSTEM) and specifically directs that members include qualified individuals from “academic institutions, nonprofit organizations and industry, including in-school, out-of-school, and informal education practitioners.” The bill language also directs the advisory panel to consider the appropriateness of criteria used to evaluate effectiveness of programs and how to leverage private and non-profit STEM investments and encourage public-private partnerships to improve STEM education.
  • There is a reaffirmation to broadening participation in STEM fields of women, minorities and people with disabilities.  Of interest to the afterschool field is that the bill asks the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award grants that support mentoring programs and conducting outreach programs that engage K-12 students.
  • There is also a new K-8 grant program that can be used to design cooperative and hands-on learning programs, providing role models and mentors and greater exposure to STEM events, competitions and professionals.  Afterschool leaders should make note of the following ways funds can be used:
    • “training of informal learning educators and youth-serving professionals using evidence-based methods consistent with the target student population being served;”
    • “innovative strategies to engage under-represented students, such as using leadership skill outcomes measures to encourage youth with the confidence to pursue STEM course work and academic study;” and
    • “co-ordination with STEM-rich institutions including other nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations, classroom and out-of-classroom settings, institutions of higher education, vocational facilities, corporations, museums or science centers.”

Recognition of STEM programs "codified into policy"

At the actual Committee markup, Senator Markey (D-MA) introduced an amendment that would create a new cross-directorate grant award at NSF to support partnerships between institutions involved in informal STEM learning, higher education and education research centers. 

The COMPETES bill has a long way to go, as it still has to be voted on by the full Senate and then reconciled with the House version of the bill, which is very different. But this is an extremely promising situation and highlights that there is increasing recognition of the vital role afterschool programs and informal STEM education programs play in strengthening STEM education. It's very gratifying to see this recognition codified into policy, but much work still remains to be done to ensure that policymakers continue to support afterschool STEM learning when there are tough budget decisions to be made.   

Guest blog: Inspiring New Mexico’s Youth STEMbassador program

By Julie Hernandez, STEM Afterschool Expansion VISTA for New Mexico. Science introduced me to a world of possibilities. I see scientists as modern day explorers, discovering worlds we’ve never seen and providing answers to questions we didn’t even know to ask. Science also...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/09/18

From afterschool to electrician

Today, we shine a light on Colby Holmes from New Hope, Alabama. Then a senior in high school, Colby attended the 2017 Afterschool for All Challenge in Washington, D.C. and took the time to tell his story: how his afterschool program has inspired his future career in a STEM field and fueled his...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/11/18

Maker Mart in Roanoke puts the tools to learn in students’ hands

At the Maker Mart in Roanoke, Virginia, students in safety glasses guide hissing handsaws across two-by-fours of pale wood. At a work table nearby, drill bits peel out pencil-shavings from a tube of wood, opening up holes to fit the screws for a student’s new design – a handmade chair...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/13/18

Guest blog: 33 boys. Zero girls.

By Jothi Ramaswamy, founder and CEO of ThinkSTEAM. “33 boys. Zero girls.” Four words. That’s all it took to transform my 13 year old perspective on society. I was talking with my brother over dinner when he iterated this gender ratio in his undergraduate C++ coding...

BY: Guest Blogger      03/29/18

Storytelling & mentoring can bring STEM's Hidden Figures into the spotlight

By Allyson Kennedy, a scientist, educator, and STEM advocate. Allyson received her Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016 and is now working to broaden participation in computing education through an AAAS Science and Technology Policy fellowship at the National...

BY: Guest Blogger      02/26/18

What the FY19 budget request does, and doesn’t do, for STEM learning

On February 12, the White House released its FY19 budget request. As expected, it reiterated much of the FY18 request, including deep cuts to and elimination of many discretionary programs. This year’s request was made more confusing due to the congressional budget deal reached just days...

BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      02/22/18

Overdeck Family Foundation renews efforts to support STEM learning

Updated March 2 to include a quote from Overdeck Family Foundation Program Officier Brian Carter.  Advancing supportive afterschool policies, regardless of the focus area, requires a collaborative, multi-pronged approach. As such, we are delighted to continue our partnership...

BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      01/26/18

Call for submissions to afterschool-themed issue of Connected Science Learning

Connected Science Learning is looking for you to submit to the fall issue highlighting afterschool partnerships! A project of the National Science Teachers Association and the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Connected Science Learning focuses on sharing the effective methods of...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/23/18

Stay informed about STEM with the Afterschool STEM Hub newsletter

Brought to you by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the Afterschool Lab Report is dedicated to continuously providing advocates with the tools they need to make the case for out-of-school time STEM learning. The Afterschool Lab Report is sent each quarter,...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/22/18

Wrapping up the 2017 CS Ed Week

Computer Science Education Week (CS Ed Week) 2017 was an exciting time for the Afterschool Alliance and the CS education community at large. The Afterschool Alliance shared key resources for afterschool computer science throughout the week, including: “Connecting to computer science: A...

BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      12/15/17

Overdeck Family Foundation renews efforts to support STEM learning

Updated March 2 to include a quote from Overdeck Family Foundation Program Officier Brian Carter.  Advancing supportive afterschool policies, regardless of the focus area, requires a collaborative, multi-pronged approach. As such, we are delighted to continue our partnership...

BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      01/26/18

3 must-read articles from Connected Science Learning

Are you interested in collaborations that bridge out-of-school and in-school STEM learning? Check out the new peer-reviewed online journal, Connected Science Learning, a project from the National Science Teachers Association and the Association of Science-Technology Centers. Connected...

BY: Leah Silverberg      02/21/17

What are you doing for Computer Science Education Week?

This December 5-11, join the Afterschool Alliance in celebrating the importance of computer science education for all kids for the 2016 Computer Science Education Week. Planning an Hour of Code with your students and participating in our tweet chat is a great way to start! Plan an Hour of...

BY: Melissa Ballard      11/21/16

New partnership will advance afterschool STEM policies

The Afterschool Alliance is delighted to announce a new partnership with the Overdeck Family Foundation to advance afterschool STEM policy. We will be working with the statewide afterschool networks to achieve this goal, as many networks are already engaged in advancing afterschool STEM...

BY: Anita Krishnamurthi      11/07/16

R+P Fellowship accepting applications for STEM educators and researchers

The Research + Practice Fellowship program, created by the Research + Practice Collaboratory, supports STEM educators and researchers in learning from one another by attending each other’s professional conferences.  The R + P fellowship, which will give fellows up to $2000 in 2017 to...

BY: Elizabeth Tish      10/07/16

How afterschool-library partnerships are engaging kids in STEM

The Afterschool Alliance has partnered with the Science Technology Activities and Resources Library Education Network (STAR_Net) to highlight the ways afterschool programs are partnering with local libraries to introduce kids to valuable science, technology, engineering...

BY: Robert Abare      09/02/16

Changing the game for girls in STEM

A new white paper from the nationally-recognized STEM education provider Techbridge calls for a more sophisticated approach to engaging girls in STEM. Across the U.S., girls are growing up in cities and regions bustling with innovation, yet many do not consider careers in...

BY: Erin Murphy      07/19/16

Start a Girls Who Code Club and help close the tech gender gap

Girls Who Code is actively working to create a world in which men and women are represented equally in the ever-important technology industry. This year, Girls Who Code is looking to scale-up efforts through their afterschool clubs program. You can apply to be an official host...

BY: Erin Murphy      07/12/16

What the FY19 budget request does, and doesn’t do, for STEM learning

On February 12, the White House released its FY19 budget request. As expected, it reiterated much of the FY18 request, including deep cuts to and elimination of many discretionary programs. This year’s request was made more confusing due to the congressional budget deal reached just days...

BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      02/22/18

Stay informed about STEM with the Afterschool STEM Hub newsletter

Brought to you by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the Afterschool Lab Report is dedicated to continuously providing advocates with the tools they need to make the case for out-of-school time STEM learning. The Afterschool Lab Report is sent each quarter,...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/22/18

Wrapping up the 2017 CS Ed Week

Computer Science Education Week (CS Ed Week) 2017 was an exciting time for the Afterschool Alliance and the CS education community at large. The Afterschool Alliance shared key resources for afterschool computer science throughout the week, including: “Connecting to computer science: A...

BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      12/15/17

Webinar recap: Tools, ideas, and strategies for creative computing in afterschool

Providing students with the tools and knowledge they need to become creators of technology, not just consumers, is a growing priority for afterschool programs across the country. Many are building from the ground up and running into issues like identifying technology, tools, and curricula to meet...

BY: Melissa Ballard      12/08/17

Promising practices: Hybrid tech/analog system grows STEM mentoring

During CS Ed Week, we wanted to highlight an initiative that pushes the envelope on excellence in computer science and STEM. Keshia Ashe, the co-founder and chief executiver officer of ManyMentors, sat down to talk about afterschool, STEM mentoring, and fostering the growth of underrepresented...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      12/07/17

New commitments to equity, engagement at the CSforALL Summit

“Power is the ability to write and author the American story… and that requires ambition to be nurtured; it requires the administration of an infrastructure that can do this.” These words come from Dr. Kamau Bobb of Georgia Institute of Technology, explaining how institutes of...

BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      10/20/17

Administration and tech sector commit to STEM and computer science education

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...

BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      10/03/17

New report: Opportunities and challenges in afterschool computer science

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, we’re proud to release our new report, “Growing computer science education in afterschool: Opportunities and challenges.” A diverse group of stakeholders—including educators, business and industry, policy makers, and...

BY: Melissa Ballard      12/07/16

What are you doing for Computer Science Education Week?

This December 5-11, join the Afterschool Alliance in celebrating the importance of computer science education for all kids for the 2016 Computer Science Education Week. Planning an Hour of Code with your students and participating in our tweet chat is a great way to start! Plan an Hour of...

BY: Melissa Ballard      11/21/16

Learn to make the case for STEM learning with FrameWorks Institute

Do you think afterschool programs are a great place to engage kids in learning about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)? Do you have trouble sometimes convincing others to share your enthusiasm for teaching kids STEM after school? If you answered 'yes' to any of these...

BY: Elizabeth Tish      10/31/16

These three programs successfully integrated engineering education

This blog was also published on LinkEngineering. Afterschool programs across the country are providing students with the opportunity to explore engineering activities and careers. According to America After 3PM, 10.2 million children (18 percent) currently participate in...

BY: Erin Murphy      10/10/16

How afterschool-library partnerships are engaging kids in STEM

The Afterschool Alliance has partnered with the Science Technology Activities and Resources Library Education Network (STAR_Net) to highlight the ways afterschool programs are partnering with local libraries to introduce kids to valuable science, technology, engineering...

BY: Robert Abare      09/02/16

Start a Girls Who Code Club and help close the tech gender gap

Girls Who Code is actively working to create a world in which men and women are represented equally in the ever-important technology industry. This year, Girls Who Code is looking to scale-up efforts through their afterschool clubs program. You can apply to be an official host...

BY: Erin Murphy      07/12/16

Guest blog: Inspiring New Mexico’s Youth STEMbassador program

By Julie Hernandez, STEM Afterschool Expansion VISTA for New Mexico. Science introduced me to a world of possibilities. I see scientists as modern day explorers, discovering worlds we’ve never seen and providing answers to questions we didn’t even know to ask. Science also...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/09/18

Guest blog: 33 boys. Zero girls.

By Jothi Ramaswamy, founder and CEO of ThinkSTEAM. “33 boys. Zero girls.” Four words. That’s all it took to transform my 13 year old perspective on society. I was talking with my brother over dinner when he iterated this gender ratio in his undergraduate C++ coding...

BY: Guest Blogger      03/29/18

Storytelling & mentoring can bring STEM's Hidden Figures into the spotlight

By Allyson Kennedy, a scientist, educator, and STEM advocate. Allyson received her Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016 and is now working to broaden participation in computing education through an AAAS Science and Technology Policy fellowship at the National...

BY: Guest Blogger      02/26/18

Webinar recap: Tools, ideas, and strategies for creative computing in afterschool

Providing students with the tools and knowledge they need to become creators of technology, not just consumers, is a growing priority for afterschool programs across the country. Many are building from the ground up and running into issues like identifying technology, tools, and curricula to meet...

BY: Melissa Ballard      12/08/17

Promising practices: Hybrid tech/analog system grows STEM mentoring

During CS Ed Week, we wanted to highlight an initiative that pushes the envelope on excellence in computer science and STEM. Keshia Ashe, the co-founder and chief executiver officer of ManyMentors, sat down to talk about afterschool, STEM mentoring, and fostering the growth of underrepresented...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      12/07/17

New commitments to equity, engagement at the CSforALL Summit

“Power is the ability to write and author the American story… and that requires ambition to be nurtured; it requires the administration of an infrastructure that can do this.” These words come from Dr. Kamau Bobb of Georgia Institute of Technology, explaining how institutes of...

BY: Stephanie Rodriguez      10/20/17

Guest blog: Have recent investments in afterschool STEM improved student outcomes?

By Dr. Gil G. Noam, Dr. Patricia J. Allen, and Bailey Triggs at The PEAR Institute: Partnerships in Education and Resilience. U.S. policymakers have prioritized boosting student interest in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) to prepare the nation’s youth for an...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/22/17

Guest blog: Trump budget would devastate afterschool STEM

By Ron Ottinger, the director of STEM Next, co-chair of the national STEM Funders Network, and the former executive director of the Noyce Foundation. Known as a leader and expert in STEM learning, Ron has spent the last nine years guiding the Noyce foundations initiatives in informal and...

BY: Guest Blogger      04/10/17

An anti-education, anti-science budget proposal

As expected, President Trump’s long-awaited “skinny budget” contained deep cuts to domestic discretionary spending. Particularly disappointing to those of us in the afterschool STEM education community are the outright eliminations of the programs that help young people develop...

BY: Anita Krishnamurthi      03/20/17

Victories for STEM education in recent legislative activity

As the legislative season winds down, several wins for afterschool STEM education have emerged. Most recently, on July 13-14 the House Appropriations Committee marked up the fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill. The bill maintains funding...

BY: Anita Krishnamurthi      07/14/16