By Maria Leyva
General Motors (GM) is investing in education programs that improve the presence and persistence of students studying science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)—and they are offering grants of $25,000 or more to do just that! GM is committed to “high-quality and relevant [STEM] learning, both inside and outside the classroom.”
Proposals should help scale strong evidence-based, innovative solutions to achieve the following outcomes:
- Increase the number of students who earn a degree in STEM that matches market needs
- Increase the presence, achievement, and persistence levels for underrepresented minorities in STEM field
- Increase the supply of qualified teachers for teacher training in STEM-related subjects
How to apply
Applicants must first submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) by May 12, 2017. Invitations to submit a full proposal are based on the merit of the LOI. Only 501(c)3 nonprofits are eligible, and all applicants must take an Eligibility Quiz. Find more information and application instructions on GM’s website.
Don’t forget, the Afterschool Alliance has many resources that can help you write your LOI and proposal! See our general research page and the Afterschool STEM Hub for STEM-specific messaging and supporting data.
More about General Motors' philantropic giving
GM is committed to fostering smart, safe, and sustainable communities around the world. Through its community investments, GM provides grantees with the tools and resources to push for meaningful change and find transformative solutions to make progress towards shared outcomes. Overall, philanthropic giving is guided by the following principles:
- Support for recognized local, regional, national, and global charities who provide unique programming and/or community outreach initiatives
- Broadening strategic partnership opportunities directed toward GM giving focus areas
- Supporting work that leverages GM’s commitment to empowering underserved communities around the world
The Best Buy Foundation is looking to support your afterschool and summer program that helps youth develop 21st-century technology skills. Their mission is to “provide teens with places and opportunities to develop technology skills that will inspire future education and career choices.” The Best Buy Foundation’s annual Community Grants are awarded to programs that provide computer programming, digital imaging, music production, robotics, and mobile app development experience to students ages 13-18. The Best Buy Foundation provides one-year grants up to $10,000, with the average grant award of $5,000.
Who is eligible?
To qualify for the Best Buy Community Grants your organization must provide direct services to teens ages 13-18, have 501(c)(3) status or be a public agency with tax-exempt status, and be within 50 miles of a Best Buy store, Best Buy Mobile location, Best Buy Distribution Center, Best Buy Service Center, or Best Buy’s corporate campus. Programs can find the closest Best Buy using the Best Buy Store Locator. Programs that have Best Buy employee volunteers will receive special consideration.
How to apply
Applications are available starting April 1, and grant proposals are due by 5 p.m. EDT on May 19. Programs will be notified of the Foundation’s decision August 31, 2017. Visit the community grants page to read more and apply!
For other funding opportunities for science, technology, and engineering programs check out the Afterschool Alliance’s STEM Funding Page!
By Rachel Clark
By Erin Dowd, Director of Curriculum for Level Up Village. Connect with her on Twitter @eedowd27. Level Up Village (LUV) delivers pioneering Global STEAM (STEM + Arts) enrichment courses that promote design thinking and one-to-one collaboration on real-world problems between students from around the world. Launched in 2012, LUV runs courses during school, after-school and in the summer for students at more than 150 U.S. schools, with 30+ Global Partner organizations in more than 20 countries. For more information, visit levelupvillage.com.
|These students in San Juan Capistrano, California, collaborated virtually with partners in Honduras on a 3D printing collaboration in their Level Up Village Global Inventors after school course. (Photo Credit: St. Margaret’s Episcopal School)|
Global collaboration is the next phase of 21st Century learning, but it can often be placed on the back burner. Let’s face it: finding the time to address all of the moving parts involved in connecting students across oceans is hard.
But wouldn’t it be amazing to provide an opportunity for your students to learn with students half a world away and develop empathy by collaborating on the same project? And why aren’t more schools doing this already?
Challenge 1: Competing Demands
Afterschool providers are under so much pressure to plan lessons and activities, meet healthy eating and physical activity goals, handle administrative tasks, connect with parents and more. It can be daunting to even contemplate a global collaboration, and inevitably, it slides down the list of priorities.
Challenge 2: Time Zones & Technology Hurdles
Often, plans for a global collaboration are compromised by challenges such as spotty Internet connections, outdated software or lack of tech support. Different time zones are a major factor to consider and can prevent real-time connections.
While these issues are real and can present big challenges, they are not insurmountable as long as educators consider the following:
Global collaboration doesn’t need to replace other learning objectives
Global collaboration is similar to regular classroom collaboration in that it requires curiosity, effective communication, perspective taking, resourcefulness, and ultimately, the ability to follow through on projects. These are all important skills to be successful in life and are also highlighted in Common Core, NGSS, and ISTE standards. Global collaboration allows students to apply these skills across cultural contexts and allows educators to address many goals at once.
Real-time communication isn’t the only way to connect
While real-time video exchange is amazing, there are other ways for students to connect with peers across the world. Asynchronous video exchange, audio recordings, web-based tools, apps and social media are all helping to create meaningful global connections. Not only do these technologies facilitate global collaboration, they also offer flexibility so students don’t have to stay up past their bedtime to take part.
This month, the Susan Crown Exchange (SCE) is seeking afterschool program partners to join its Digital Learning Challenge. Selected programs will receive awards of up to $100,000 to support their work developing teens’ 21st century skills using digital media. Awardees will participate in a two-year learning community that will “explore how digital media can promote the development of skills to prepare the next generation for success.”
What is the Digital Learning Challenge?
Over the next two years, the Digital Learning Challenge will bring together the selected afterschool programs, an evaluation team, human resource professionals, and digital product developers and distributors to “explore what it means to be a prepared and skilled 21st century citizen.” The learning community “will unpack the practices and programs of top afterschool organizations that support teens as they build, produce, and remix media, and how these activities connect to opportunities and obstacles faced beyond the program.”
The goal of the initiative is to engage youth in more meaningful learning experiences. Through this work with afterschool programs, SCE hopes to analyze and articulate best practices to share with educators, informal learning practitioners, and others with a stake in using digital tools.
To participate, afterschool programs will need to make a two-year commitment, including three in-person convenings and three online meetings between June 2017 and September 2018. SCE will cover all travel and convening expenses related to participation.
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 parents—agree that computer science education is vital for kids to become the creators and innovators for the next generation, making technology work for them and designing solutions for their communities.
In the report, we asked the afterschool field what they thought about computer science education. They responded with overwhelming interest: 59 percent of our survey respondents were either offering computing to their students at the time of the survey or had offered it in the past, with the majority saying they were highly likely to offer it again. Among the programs that had never offered computing education before (40 percent of respondents), 89 percent indicated a high or medium level of interest in trying it out.
Despite this strong interest, afterschool providers indicated some big challenges to offering computer science to their students, especially finding qualified educators to teach it, securing funding, and accessing necessary technology. To address these common challenges, as well as other issues mentioned in our focus groups, our report offers nine recommendations for K-12 computer science education stakeholders:
For afterschool leaders and practitioners:
- Document promising practices.
- Share existing resources more broadly.
- Support individual afterschool programs’ capacity for partnerships.
For computer science education experts:
- Conduct targeted outreach to the afterschool field to educate them on computing.
- Increase professional development opportunities for out-of-school time educators.
- Develop engaging curricula designed for the afterschool environment.
For industry partners and grantmakers:
- Engage and invest in meaningful partnerships with afterschool providers.
- Support training for employee volunteers.
- Provide and promote a diverse array of funding opportunities.
For more details on our recommendations, and how you can implement them, download the full report!
We hope that our findings will help K-12 computer science education stakeholders support the growth of quality, sustainable computing education within the afterschool field. Read the full report today, and be sure to forward it to your friends and colleagues.
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 Code
Interested in getting your students started with computer science and coding? The Hour of Code is designed as an easy introduction to the topic for students and staff, as well as an opportunity to drum up support for computer science initiatives among community partners and stakeholders. Last year, almost 4,000 afterschool programs across the country hosted Hour of Code events—let’s keep growing our numbers!
Get involved in two simple steps:
Just announced for 2016 Hour of Code is the addition of an all-new Minecraft Hour of Code Designer, a tutorial which lets students code their own Minecraft rules to create a totally unique Minecraft experience, and then share it with friends or play it on their phones!
Mark your calendar for our tweet chat
On Wednesday, December 7, at 2pm EDT, we’re teaming up with the National AfterSchool Association to dig into the challenges and opportunities around computer science for afterschool programs. We’ll have a focus on professional development needs for staff to successfully facilitate computer science and coding. Stay tuned for more info! In the meantime, follow @afterschool4all on Twitter and subscribe to our blog, the Afterschool Snack.
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 questions, the FrameWorks Institute has an online course for you. Making the Case for STEM Learning provides afterschool providers and professionals with the most comprehensive understanding of the Frameworks Institute's communications research on how the American public thinks about STEM education and out-of-school time learning. This research helps afterschool STEM advocates ensure they are using the most effective arguments when seeking to boost funding, support or participation for afterschool STEM programs.
This course is accessible at no cost through March 2017, so go check it out today!
Looking for additional resources?
Visit the Afterschool STEM Hub to access talking points, PowerPoint slides, infographics, and more to help you tell a compelling story and inspire enthusiasm for STEM in afterschool. You can also view two additional FrameWorks Academy courses to dive deeper into strategies for telling thematic stories, or how to use social math to explain afterschool STEM.
By Erin Murphy
This blog was also published on LinkEngineering.
|Students from SHINE with their homemade robot. Image via @amjohnston|
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 afterschool programs. Sixty-nine percent of parents said their child’s afterschool program offered STEM programming, and 30 percent said these programs offered engineering and technology activities. To do the math, this means that over 3 million students are receiving engineering programming in afterschool programs.
The flexibility of afterschool allows providers to make engineering activities engaging and well-suited for the needs of the community. Programs are choosing topics relevant to kids’ interests while leveraging community partners—including science museums, zoos and aquaria, universities and businesses—and engaging parents in the learning process.
We’d like to highlight three programs that are providing impressive opportunities and outcomes for the students and families they serve.
The SHINE After School Program, in Jim Thorpe, PA, exemplifies how rural programs can provide quality engineering education by using local resources and expertise. The program serves over 600 K-12 students and their families, with the majority of participants coming from low-income families and having special or remedial needs. In this program, 4th and 5th graders complete hands-on activities that focus on engineering, the health sciences and green energy, which introduces them to careers in those fields while improving their problem-solving skills. In middle school, students advance to a program held at a local technical center where they have access to Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and shop machinery. Working with college interns and high school mentors, middle school teams complete six engineering projects over the course of the academic year. One project is to build a “car of the future,” first designing the car in CAD, then cutting precision machined parts, and finally constructing the life-size derby car.
In a 2011-2012 evaluation, parents of middle school students observed an improvement in their children’s ability to use technology (86 percent) and in math skills (68 percent). Additionally, 95 percent of students in the middle school academy were excited about STEM careers, and 97 percent of 4th and 5th graders understood what an engineer does.