WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) Thursday introduced the Strengthening STEM Ecosystems Act, legislation to boost STEM workforce and job training.
The bill would establish a grant program within the National Science Foundation to provide funding to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Ecosystems and their partners to better connect communities, share knowledge and create pathways for students to enter STEM careers.
Kelly and Moran worked closely with the STEM Education Coalition, The Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM, TIES, and leaders from the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice to understand how STEM Learning Ecosystems function, including their deep and effective cross-sector partnerships.
“STEM Ecosystems are effective at bringing together nonprofits, schools districts, businesses, museums, universities, and more,” said Moran. “I have been a longtime supporter of STEM education.”
Kelly, a former NASA astronaut, said he believes that strong STEM skills are the best way to prepare workers for the “many high-paying jobs of the future” and ensure that the United States maintains its “competitive edge on the global stage.”
Jan Morrison, founder and chief executive officer of TIES which co-founded and serves as the backbone organization for the STEM Learning Ecosystems, said the Bill is a critical milestone for the 8 year-old initiative.
“The STEM Learning Ecosystems have changed communities and the lives of Americans. We’ve done this by good old-fashioned hard work, by collaboration and by recognizing that STEM is the way to solve our nation’s grandest of challenges,” Morrison said.
Jeremy Babendure, executive director of the SciTech Institute of Arizona, one of the 94 STEM Learning Ecosystems, said he believes the legislation will be a transformative investment “to enable regional STEM ecosystems across the country to connect their business, education, and community organizations to collectively inspire and engage millions in STEM.”
The Cape Cod Regional STEM Network was selected to join STEM Learning Ecosystems as a member in 2017. "It has made a profound difference in our ability to develop and expand meaningful and impactful STEM education programs here in on the Cape & Islands through the SLE model of cross-sector collaboration," stated Bridget Burger, Director.