Press Release: Citizen Schools Launches STEM Initiative
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nonprofit Organization Partners with Businesses Nationwide to Engage Employees in Teaching Science and Math to Middle Schoolers
Launch of National “Catalyst” Initiative Aimed at Exposing High-Need Students to More Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Professionals
Boston, MA – October 17, 2012 – Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to lengthen the school day for children in low-income communities, announced today, at Google’s Cambridge, MA office, the launch of a new national “Catalyst” initiative aimed at connecting thousands of students with local science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals and extra math support. The organization has committed to mobilize 7,500 STEM professionals to teach approximately 6,600 students at middle schools across the country over the next three years.
Since 1995, Citizen Schools has brought over 20,000 volunteers from local businesses and community organizations into middle schools nationwide. Volunteers lead “apprenticeships” where they work under the supervision of Citizen Schools staff to teach students about a wide variety of professions, with a growing focus on professions in the STEM fields. Students work with volunteers on hands-on projects, such as building solar cars and robots, programming computers and Android applications, and designing video games.
“Citizen Schools has demonstrated that inspiring, supportive programming offered in middle school can help change students’ trajectories for the better, preparing them for success in high school, college, and the workforce,” said Eric Schwarz, co-founder and CEO of Citizen Schools. “Now, we are inviting more companies and their employees to join us, along with Google and Cognizant, to spark a ‘catalyst’ moment for students across the country, igniting a passion for science and technology.”
Citizen Schools is seeking to raise $10 million to support the initiative and has raised $5 million to date. Founding “Catalyst” partners include Google, Cognizant, and the Carnegie Corporation. Companies are being asked to invest both financial support and employee volunteer hours to the effort. Google has engaged approximately 450 employees to teach Citizen Schools apprenticeships since 2006. Cognizant, has engaged nearly 130 employees since 2010.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the demand for professionals in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math is projected to dramatically outpace the supply over the coming decades, with over two million anticipated STEM job openings by 2018 and a serious shortage of qualified college graduates to fill them. At the same time, a Lemelson-MIT survey found that a majority of teenagers may be discouraged from pursuing STEM careers because they do not know anyone who works in these fields and they do not understand what people in these fields do. The problem is particularly acute for populations that have been historically underrepresented in STEM fields. While earning a STEM degree is one important milestone in pursuing a STEM career, just 2.2 percent of Hispanics and Latinos, 2.7 percent of African Americans, and 3.3 percent of Native Americans and Alaska Natives have earned a first university degree in the natural sciences or engineering by age 24.
There are fewer than 250,000 math and science teachers in the United States. The population of working scientists and engineers is twenty times larger – five and a half million people with content expertise and authentic knowledge of STEM career pathways, but generally no connection to the low-income children who need exactly what they have to offer. Through Citizen Schools’ apprenticeships, students work hand-in-hand with those professionals on meaningful projects. In a recent student survey, 80 percent of middle school students taking Citizen Schools apprenticeships with Google expressed interest in pursuing a STEM college major or career. This compares with data from ACT, showing only one-third of 8th graders nationally are interested in STEM majors and careers.
“Furthering STEM education in the U.S. is one of the most critical challenges we face as a country and important for ensuring the next generation of U.S. workers compete and continue to innovate. We need to cultivate an interest in technology and science to inspire today’s youth, and there is no better way than by involving our own employees as teachers,” explained Mark Greenlaw, Vice President, Sustainability and Educational Affairs, Cognizant. “Through our Making the Future initiative and partnerships with organizations like Citizen Schools, Cognizant seeks to encourage hands-on learning, which is vital in helping children create, collaborate, and unlock new skills and interests in STEM.”
Citizen Schools recently announced the results that partner schools are seeing on standardized tests nationwide. Students in Citizen Schools expanded learning time partner schools made double-digit gains in proficiency on state standardized tests in both math and English Language Arts, meeting the U.S. Department of Education’s three-year standard for successful school turnaround in just two years.
In the 2012-2013 school year, Citizen Schools will partner with 31 schools in eight states to serve over 5,300 students.
About Citizen Schools
Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for low income children across the country. Citizen Schools uniquely mobilizes thousands of adult volunteers to help improve student achievement by teaching skill-building apprenticeships. The organization’s programs blend these real-world learning projects with rigorous academic and leadership development activities, preparing students in the middle grades for success in high school, college, the workforce, and civic life.
Founded in Boston in 1995, Citizen Schools has grown into a national network of thirty-two “campuses” – middle school partner sites – in low-income communities across eight states. For more information, visit www.citizenschools.org.