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STEMx Network Invests in State, Rural STEM Innovations STEMx

STEMx Network Invests in State, Rural STEM Innovations

The network of 18 STEM organizations across 16 states provides an accessible platform to share, analyze and disseminate quality STEM education tools.

On Oct. 24 the national STEMx network announced funding for five states to expand quality STEM education programs and add to the national conversation on innovative education.

The STEMx network is a multi-state STEM network that provides an accessible platform to share, analyze and disseminate quality STEM education tools to transform education, expand the number of STEM teachers, increase student achievement in STEM and grow tomorrow’s innovators.

The network is composed of 18 leading STEM organizations across 16 states/territories.

The 2019 STEMx Challenge Grants funds projects in Idaho, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Four of the five awardees focus specifically on expanding STEM in rural areas, an emerging focus of the STEM education movement today. The fifth includes rural areas as part of a broader coalition building effort.

Each of the five winning proposals will achieve two goals. First, these programs will catalyze the expansion of quality STEM education in the selected state. Second, every state will document their success and share their expertise through the STEMx network, furthering the national dialogue on expanding access to education.

“The opportunities funded today will position these five networks as leaders in expanding STEM nationally,” said Wes Hall, Interim Senior Vice-President of Education and Philanthropy at Battelle. “The expertise they share will strengthen all states.” Battelle manages the STEMx network as a part of the institution’s commitment to inspiring the next generation of innovators.

Here are some of the recipients of the grants.

Idaho: New strategic plan and regional hubs planned to enhance statewide STEM access

Facing projections of a 26% increase in the number of STEM jobs in Idaho by 2024, the Idaho STEM Action Center looks to expand into a full-fledged statewide STEM ecosystem. The Idaho STEM Action Center will bring partners together and formalize a state STEM network with shared vision, mission, and goals. This new strategic plan will include a series of regional STEM hubs.

The project will be led by the Idaho STEM Action Center, a government agency under the Executive Office of the Governor.

Indiana: Community sessions culminate in state convening on rural STEM education

The Indiana STEM Ecosystem will host a spring 2020 STEM Ecosystem Convening to gather businesses, PK-12 education and out of school programs. Attendees will identify key local challenges to expanding STEM partnerships to reach students in rural communities. Planning for the convening will include open sessions in Indianapolis, Northern Indiana and Southern Indiana.

The Indiana STEM Ecosystem was established as the I-STEM Network in 2006 by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Eli Lilly and Company, the Lilly Endowment and Purdue University. For this grant, the Indiana STEM Ecosystem will partner with the Indiana Afterschool Network, ISTEM Resource Network at Purdue University, and the Rolls Royce Corporation.

North Carolina: Seven county rural region will select and achieve three key actions to expand rural STEM education

STEM West will rally the seven-county region of rural western NC around STEM education. A main event will be hosted in the center of western North Carolina at the Isothermal Community College in Spindale on January 30th (with a snow date of February 12th). That full-day event will highlight local STEM programs, identify programming gaps, and select three key future action items. The facilitator for consensus will be Tom Williams, President of Strategic Educational Alliances, Inc. Following the event, sub-meetings will begin to drive completion of these three action items in time to report back to STEMx in June.

STEM West is a non-profit based in Catawba County Schools and is supported by the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (SMT) Center in Durham, N.C.

South Carolina: Local feedback session and new rural STEM effort

South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science will host a localized feedback session focused on rural STEM education with an emphasis on whole community engagement. Building off the Coalition’s prior success with the Grand Challenges format, the session will be interactive. It will also drive toward the creation of at least one rural STEM education effort to increase knowledge and sustain community support. The South Carolina team has already begun developing a list of potential organizations and individuals to invite and plans for more than 100 attendees.

Through a previous STEMx Challenge Grant, the state identified five Grand Challenges for STEM in South Carolina. These included building awareness about STEM and engaging more people in STEM advocacy. This follow-on funding will enhance current efforts toward these ends.

South Carolina's Coalition for Mathematics & Science will lead the program.

Virginia: As foundation state network grows, meetings in rural regions

To ensure the Virginia statewide STEM plan meets its goal of increasing equity and access in STEM education, state leaders felt it was important to hear directly from community members. This challenge grant will give citizens a voice and role in the development of this plan. With these supporting funds the Virginia STEM Coordinator, Chuck English, and the Virginia Department of Education STEM Director, Dr. Tina Manglicmot, will visit five rural regions and host sessions where stakeholders will have the opportunity to learn about the development of the plan and add their perspectives. It will start the communications network that will help with future Virginia STEM developments.

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