White House Champions of Change for Summer Opportunity

White House Champions of Change for Summer Opportunity

We were so pleased to see that Beth Unverzagt, Director of OregonASK, has been chosen as White House Champion of Change for Summer Opportunity. On Friday February 26, the White House will convene the Champions of Change to recognize their accomplishments in expanding high-quality summer learning for young people.

As Director of Oregon ASK, Beth has been a driving force behind increasing opportunities for Oregon young people to participate in high-quality STEM opportunities afterschool and during the summer. Through Oregon ASK’s Summer Learning Partnership, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry brings STEM learning activities to kids in summer programs and camps in Oregon.

As one of 50 statewide afterschool networks supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Oregon ASK focuses on building good policies and practices to sustain and expand quality afterschool and summer learning programs. Seven years ago, the Noyce Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation came together with an idea to leverage the networks’ success toward a new goal: broadening access to STEM for kids across the country by focusing on afterschool programs.

Engaging kids with high-quality STEM learning in out-of-school time makes sense for many reasons. We know that children spend 80% of their waking hours out of school – and if they have access to STEM during part of that time they can explore, experiment, discover, tinker and reflect— in other words, learn by doing, which we know is the best approach to STEM. The results? Increased interest and competence in STEM, particularly for those kids who haven’t had access before, including girls, and kids of color.

Partnerships and networks can make a real difference in ensuring that kids attend truly effective, high-quality programs. With Noyce – and now STEM Next — support, 27 afterschool networks are expanding informal science in afterschool and summer programs, impacting an estimated 400,000 youth in 5,000 programs across the country so far.

Beth and Oregon ASK are also key partners in Oregon’s Regional STEM Hub Network, one of 27 STEM Learning Ecosystems supported by STEM Next through the STEM Funders Network. The STEM Hubs unite schools, nonprofits, businesses and civic leaders on the regional level to drive local STEM education. The Hubs connect local resources and opportunities to bring STEM to students in and out of school.

The common thread of both of these efforts is systembuilding: creating sustainable ways that stakeholders can connect with each other and engage young people in STEM. We congratulate Beth and Oregon ASK for their success in building the system needed to deliver high quality STEM learning opportunities to Oregon kids! We will be watching the live stream of the White House event this Friday, February 26 at 10:30AM ET on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/live/ and following the conversation at #WHChamps. Join us!