The new Every Student Succeeds Act moves states to the forefront on education policy and resource allocation. Taking advantage of the moment, the Overdeck Family Foundation is supporting the Afterschool Alliance and STEM Education Coalition to lead a multi-state initiative equipping the Mott Statewide Afterschool Networks to advance policy at the state level favorable to high-quality STEM learning in out-of-school time (OST) settings.
The initiative is providing policy updates; sharing advocacy resources for afterschool/informal STEM to participate in state ESSA plan development; and brokering partnerships between members of the STEM Education Coalition and state-based afterschool advocates.
In addition, six statewide networks are receiving additional support and technical assistance to deepen their work. Those networks are:
- Iowa Afterschool Alliance
- Maryland Out of School Time Network
- Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network(PSAYDN)
- Utah Afterschool Network
- Vermont Afterschool, Inc.
This effort builds on the longtime work of the C.S. Mott Foundation in seeding and supporting networks in all 50 states, and the partnership of STEM Next/Noyce Foundation and Mott in supporting the Afterschool Alliance and leveraging network capacity across the U.S. to expand STEM in OST.
The initiative is situated within the Overdeck Family Foundation’s Inspired Minds portfolio. Our long-term goal is to prepare young people to be creative problem-solvers—particularly in STEM–who can tackle the world’s challenges, including the need for sustainable energy sources, improved access to clean water, and cures for endemic diseases. We also know that not everyone will grow up to be a STEM professional, but even daily life requires creative problem-solving and math skills, including balancing household budgets and making smart consumer and personal health decisions.
We want to dramatically expand young people’s opportunities to grapple with stimulating material, dive into mind-expanding challenges, and continually explore their own interests, To get there, we need education policies that focus on increasing children’s access to high-quality STEM in diverse OST settings, and to link those settings with schools in rich ecosystems of learning.
We’re looking forward to working with the Afterschool Alliance, STEM Education Coalition and the statewide afterschool initiatives on this project; and to continuing to partner with STEM Next in many areas, including the STEM Funders Network and the national STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative.
Brian Carter is a Program Officer, Inspired Minds, Overdeck Family Foundation.