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 STEM2 Seeks to Expand Out of School Learning Opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

The California STEM Learning Network and the California After School Network today announced awards to fund three regional partnerships as part of the Power of Discovery: STEM2, a new statewide initiative to expand learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for young people in California’s out-of-school time settings.

In Southern California, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) and Orange County STEM Initiative (OC STEM) will partner to increase high quality STEM learning opportunities in at least 250 after school program sites across Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego Counties. SDCOE and OC STEM will facilitate cross-sector partnerships, inclusive of institutions of higher education, industry, and community based organizations to accelerate student learning and build the capacity of out-of-school time programs to offer meaningful STEM learning opportunities.

The $70,000 awards will fuel the work of Regional Innovation Support Providers to provide critical support for STEM learning. The regional partnerships will work to foster leadership, build effective regional partnerships and provide necessary supports to build capacity of out-of-school time programs that ensure the expansion of quality STEM learning opportunities. Additional Regional Innovation Providers awarded funding include organizations in the Greater Bay Area (Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE), the Gateways East Bay STEM Network and the Tech Museum of Innovation, and in Northern California (Sacramento County Office of Education).

The Regional Innovation partnerships are part of The Power of Discovery: STEM2, a new initiative to build collaborative and effective partnerships between schools and after school organizations. The effort will mobilize a broad coalition of community partners including higher education and business and industry with STEM expertise and resources to engage California’s students in the hands on exploration and practice of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The Initiative aims to foster excitement, curiosity and interest in learning and further student understanding of the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. Promising practices and available resources will be disseminated to all of California’s out-of-school time programs through the Power of Discovery: STEM2 Virtual Innovation Supports.

“Expanding STEM learning opportunities for students is critical to the future of our state,” said Chris Roe, Chief Executive Officer of the California STEM Learning Network. “We look forward to working with these talented Regional Support Providers to enhance and expand STEM learning for California’s students.”

“California’s after school and summer learning programs are essential, flexible places of learning serving the students and communities in California that need the most support,” said Jeff Davis, Program Director for the California After School Network. “This initiative is leveraging over 4,500 statewide after school programs to engage students in high quality STEM learning opportunities that will increase knowledge and interest in STEM, and address gaps in the employment market.”

Oversight for the new initiative is provided by a nine-member council with representatives from public education, business, after school, and higher education. Council member and UC Davis, School of Education Dean, Harold Levine, stated “This is a cross-sector approach to encourage students’ pursuit of STEM-related fields at the university and in future careers, and to strengthen the expanding regional partnerships´ capacity to lead innovations in STEM learning.”

The Power of Discovery: STEM2 is a project of the California After School Network and the California STEM Learning Network. Funding is provided by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, and the Samueli Foundation.