Idaho STEM Action Center Wins STEM Coalition Challenge

The Idaho STEM Action Center is one of 8 groups from across the country named by US2020 as a winner of the 2018 STEM Coalition Challenge, a competition for communities across the country to bring hands-on STEM mentoring and maker-centered learning to underrepresented students. The winners were announced at the Maker Faire Bay Area in San Mateo, CA. The Idaho STEM Action Center will share in $1 million in cash and in-kind support to implement bold strategies and build STEM learning partnerships in Idaho.

The prize was made possible by Schmidt Futures and Arconic Foundation as well as Discovery Communications, Genentech, Fidelity Investments, Tata Consultancy Services and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

"The Idaho STEM Action Center represents the very best of organizations dedicated to bringing STEM to students who might otherwise not have access and insight into how STEM can positively shape their futures," said Esra Ozer, President of Arconic Foundation, a sponsor of the STEM Coalition Challenge. "We look forward to seeing the positive impact winning the STEM Coalition Challenge will have on the Idaho STEM Action Center over the next several years."

Working out of the Governor's Office, the STEM Action Center was created by the state legislature in 2015 because Idaho citizens are not entering the STEM pipeline fast enough to meet current and future workforce needs, according to executive director Angela Hemingway. She said its goals are to coordinate and facilitate implementation of science, technology, engineering, and math programs, align education and workforce needs, and increase awareness of STEM learning and careers throughout Idaho. The organization works with industry, government, educators, after-school learning programs, parents, and students to develop new resources and support high-quality teacher professional-development opportunities.

Hemingway and her colleagues are delighted by the victory. "Accolades like this validate the important work we're conducting and the progress we're making here in Idaho," she said. "Moreover, the US2020 grant will help students with limited access to STEM mentors, because we're dedicating those funds to help develop a platform that connects the most rural and remote parts of our state with mentors from industry and post-secondary education."

The Idaho STEM Action Center was selected from 92 applications from 82 communities across 35 states, representing more than 1,900 nonprofits, companies, school districts, and local government partners. "The strong response to the US2020 STEM Coalition Challenge is a testament to the pent-up demand for this approach," notes Tom Kalil, Chief Innovation Officer for Schmidt Futures. Schmidt Futures is proud to provide initial support for this effort. We need an all-hands-on-deck effort to provide these opportunities for more young people -- the 21st century equivalent of barn-raisings in every community in America."

The seven other winners in the US2020 STEM Challenge are:

* Allendale, SC -- The Promise Zone Coalition/ SRS Community Reuse Region

* Buffalo, NY -- Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP)

* Chicago -- Project Exploration

* Cincinnati, OH -- Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative

* The Dalles, OR -- Columbia Gorge STEM Hub

* Pittsburgh, PA -- Remake Learning

* Washington, D.C -- DC STEM

Winners were selected based on a number of factors including: their potential for impact, approach to partnership building, creative engagement strategies, and sustainability planning. All 8 winners will share the $1 million prize, which will provide financial support, consulting, and staff support for two years.

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