Remembering Ellen

Ellen Lettvin STEM Education Fund

The STEM Next Opportunity Fund is establishing the Ellen Lettvin STEM Education Fund. The resources of the fund will be dedicated to supporting Ellen’s passion of getting kids across the country engaged in science, technology, engineering and math learning.  Ellen was particularly focused on sparking young girls’ and women’s interest in STEM learning.  The Fund will be guided by a collaboration between Ellen’s family and the STEM Next Opportunity Fund board and staff.  It is anticipated that the Fund’s first initiative will be to provide financial support for a second Robert Noyce Fellow for Informal STEM Learning at the US Department of Education, which is in the process of being established.  The second fellowship will also carry Ellen’s name.  We ask for your support to fulfill Ellen’s dream of providing STEM opportunities for all young people.

Giving to the Ellen Lettvin STEM Education Fund


Checks may be made payable to the Ellen Lettvin STEM Education Fund.

Mailing Address: STEM Next Opportunity Fund, 2305 Historic Decatur Rd. Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92106

For wire instructions please email

STEM Next Opportunity Fund is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity. Tax ID 81-4834326

About Ellen

Ellen was an extraordinary person. She received her BS in Geology in 1989, a Masters in Applied Statistics in 1993 and a dual PhD in Electrical Engineering and Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences in 1998 from the University of Michigan. Upon the completion of her PhD Ellen took a position at Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington where she did research on satellite remote sensing of the propagation of waves in the sea. Soon Ellen ascended to become the Assistant Director Education and Outreach at the Lab focusing in particular on Lab collaborations campus-wide and public engagement. There she initiated the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge. In 2008 Ellen became the Vice President for Science and Education at the Pacific Science Center where she managed a variety of successful science education programs and public-private education partnerships.

In 2014 Ellen was chosen to be the Robert Noyce Senior Fellow with the U.S Department of Education co-sponsored by the Noyce Foundation/STEM Next Opportunity Fund and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. As Senior Fellow, Ellen served as key advisor to top DoE leadership on STEM Education in and out of school. She was involved in co-developing the mission, vision and strategies for the DoE STEM Office and co-wrote a Dear Colleague Letter that provided nonregulatory guidance to states, districts and prospective grantees, unlocking potential funding for STEM education on the eve of the presidential transition. She was highly respected by her colleagues at the DoE, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, STEM Funders Network members, and field leaders across the country. She served with distinction under Secretaries Duncan, King, and DeVos.

Among her many meaningful contributions, Ellen worked with multiple offices across the Department of Education and developed inter-agency collaborations involving the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, the National Parks Service, and NASA to bring high quality STEM experiences and opportunities to some of the nation’s highest need schools and afterschool programs.

Ellen believed in the value of science, the importance of the world’s climate and the relevance of STEM, especially for young women. She crafted her career to address these issues making a meaningful impact on STEM initiatives throughout the United States.

View Ellen’s full obituary here