Citizen Schools will be launching a new STEM apprenticeship initiative with the support of $3 million of federal Investing in Innovation, or i3, grant funding and foundation support, according to an announcement this week.
The federal i3 competitive grant program was established under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support state education agencies and organizations that undertake innovative practices to help close the achievement gap and improve student academic outcomes.
Citizen Schools, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that partners with low income middle schools to expand learning time, made it through the third round of the latest i3 competition this fall, but was required to find matching funds to secure the federal grant. It was successful in the matching process due to pledged support from such foundations as the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York that will help fund the project over the next three and a half years.
The new STEM project will use the money to train volunteers that work or teach in STEM fields to provide students with apprenticeship experiences from which they gain hands-on exposure in STEM careers. Citizen Schools says they hope the apprenticeships will aid in combating some of the historic low representation of minorities and girls in STEM careers.
"This i3 grant will enable Citizen Schools to prove that addressing the opportunity chasm in STEM by providing lower income children with multiple chances to make cool things with successful STEM professionals is the surest way to eliminate the achievement gap," said Eric Schwarz, co-founder and chief executive officer of the organization.
Some apprenticeship activities could include the building of solar cars and robots, programming computers, and designing video games, Citizen School says.
Citizen Schools currently works with 31 schools in eight states that serve more than 5,300 students.