PRESS RELEASE: NJ Businesses, Education and Nonprofit Organizations Address Science and Math Education


New Jersey Businesses, Education and Nonprofit Organizations Address Science and Math Education Oppurtunities

Event Aimed at Building a Pipeline of Future Employees for the Region

April 14, 2010 – Newark, NJ – On Wednesday, April 21st, a combination of local corporations, education and nonprofit organizations will come together, at PSEG corporate headquarters, to address the issue of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in New Jersey.  As the state struggles to prepare students for careers in the STEM field, local companies are concerned about building a pipeline of qualified employees. 

The group is being assembled by Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit organization with programs in Newark, in partnership with PSEG and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and with assistance from Merck Institute for Science Education, ArcLight Capital Partners and the Horner Foundation, in response to the STEM education crisis.  Many educators worry that a STEM achievement gap is growing between U.S. students and students from other developed countries just at the time that jobs in STEM areas are growing.  In New Jersey only half of our students in math and exactly a third of our students in science are ready for college level coursework according to the STEM Education Coalition.

The event comes at a time of great momentum for STEM education nationally.  Both President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have consistently called for improved STEM education as part of their ambitious effort to reform the nation’s schools. This November, the White House announced the “Educate to Innovate” campaign to lift American students from the middle of the pack to first in the world in science and math achievement. 

The campaign aims to enlist companies and nonprofit groups to dedicate resources, including time and volunteer effort, to encourage students, especially in middle and high school, to pursue STEM.  Science and engineering societies and organizations like Citizen Schools are recruiting and training volunteers to work with students in the classroom and in extended day programs, culminating in a National Lab Day to reach 10 million young people with hands-on learning in May. 

According to President Obama, “The success we seek is not going to be attained by government alone. It depends on the dedication of students and parents and the commitment of private citizens, organizations and companies. It depends on all of us.” 

Thursday’s event will call upon New Jersey organizations and companies to explore how they can play a role in addressing the issue locally.  Attendees will learn about how organizations are already forming partnerships to make STEM learning real for young people and how they can get involved in reaching more youth in New Jersey.

“It’s critically important that young people learn the science, technology, engineering and math skills that the private sector demands,” said Ralph Izzo, Chairman, president and CEO of PSEG.  “This summit will give practitioners the opportunity to share and learn about some of the best practices for providing youth with the skills and exposure needed to succeed.”

Citizen Schools, which operates in 18 school districts including Newark Public Schools, has recruited approximately 25,000 professionals nationwide, including many scientists and other STEM professionals, to teach middle schoolers over the past fifteen years.  The organization helps improve student achievement through expanded learning days and skill-building hands-on learning projects called apprenticeships.  These 10-week apprenticeships are taught by volunteer experts who teach middle schools students about new careers and fields through real-world experiences.  Independently-validated evidence shows that students who participate in Citizen Schools improve their achievement in middle and high school and are far more likely than their peers to graduate from high school on time.

“You can’t teach science without passion or hands-on learning.  By bringing real STEM experts into the classroom and allowing them to share their passion with students, we can unleash the magic of learning for youth,” said Jarrad Toussant, Executive Director of Citizen Schools New Jersey. “We’re thrilled to be working with partners like PSEG and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation to engage STEM professionals with middle school students that can bring science and math to life with real-world projects in the extended day hours.”

About Citizen Schools Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for low-income children.  The organization’s programs uniquely mobilize thousands of adult volunteers to help improve student achievement and bridge the achievement gap by teaching skill-building apprenticeships after school. At 37 middle schools in seven states across the country, Citizen Schools programs blend these real-world learning projects with rigorous academic and leadership development activities, preparing students for success in high school, college, the workforce, and civic life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Citizen Schools New Jersey currently serves over 270 students and engages over 100 volunteers.

# # #