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December 17, 2017

12/27/2016 7:25:00 AM
STEM gets national boost with $100 million in grant possibilities
Initiative focuses on bridging engineering, education gap across US
The National Education Foundation (NEF) has announced $100 million in grant opportunities, grants will be available for schools across the U.S. to assist with the education of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

NEF chairman Dr. Appu Kuttan said the grants will give students the ability to receive "the highest quality education in STEM academics."

The grants provide schools with access to a joint program between NEF and the State University of New York (SUNY). The CyberLearning STEM+ Academies program offers customizable online coursework for grades kindergarten through high school as well as mentoring for both students and teachers.

During the 2015-16 academic year, the program recorded a unique success rate within its two million enrolled students worldwide. After 25-30 hours of hands-on experience with the coursework, students were advancing grade levels in STEM-related subjects.

"We offer incentives and get them excited about the material," Kuttan said. "If they're not excited about the material, they're not going to learn."

Eligible school districts should experience at least 35 percent of the student population receiving free or reduced lunches. They will also need to match 20 percent of the $1,160 per student cost, which amounts to $290 per student.

Kuttan also said the program is interested in working with one school in every state to receive 100 percent assistance.

"I'm asking Wisconsin DPI to select a school near Madison that we would sponsor it 100 percent," Kuttan said. "Or if we find a superintendent that's really passionate, we might even select a rural school."

The school would serve as a model of the program. Interested schools within the state would be able to visit the model school and see how the program can be implemented.

For more information about the CyberLearning STEM+ Academies, visit academies.cyberlearning.org. To apply for one of the grants, visit cyberlearning.org.

Jessica Leighty may be reached via email at jleighty@lakelandtimes.com.

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