This spring, we launched the STEMx Challenge Grant Program to provides STEMx states with up to $15,000 to develop solutions to pressing STEM education issues.

The Challenge Grants will not fund big new departments or long-running research studies. Instead, each of these modest awards will help the STEM education leaders implement and assess strategies for tackling a specific issue.

Today, we’re announcing the three states awarded these grants. Each will host a meeting (or meeting series) on a specific, critical topic. Then, at our next STEMxchange meeting in 2018, these groups will share what worked and what didn’t.

In turn, this will help our network tackle two critical goals. First, the awards will generate breakthroughs in a series of key challenges. Second, these ideas will add even more resources we can share across the STEMx network to advance our goal of providing a quality STEM education for every child.

The STEMx members awarded Challenge Grants in 2017 are South Carolina, New York, and West Virginia.

The South Carolina Coalition for Mathematics and Science will convene STEM education stakeholders from across the state and relevant experts from across the country to identify grand challenges in STEM education that South Carolina and other states can collectively address. The convening will result in a framework to address the identified grand challenges and follow-up actions. The convening will model a process for identifying shared areas of concern and a model for developing state-wide momentum for improving STEM education.

The Empire STEM Network (New York) will hold three regional meetings on middle-skills jobs with a focus on rural communities. These will culminate in a state-wide meeting on the same topic. From these conversations, the network will create a state-wide action plan. The convening and statewide plan will serve as models that other STEMx members can adopt or adapt to create career pathways that address the “Middle Skills Gap” in rural areas.

West Virginia University Center for Excellence in STEM Education will hold a convening that explores how to provide equitable access to computer science, with a particular focus on rural STEM education. The convening will bring together a wide range of stakeholders from educators, to state policy makers, to professional development providers, to education researchers. It will result in a summative report that lays out how the various stakeholders can work together to provide computer science for all students across West Virginia. The lessons learned from the convening and follow-up actions will provide other states with strategies for expanding computer science.

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