PRESS RELEASE: Citizen Schools to Advance STEM Education with Grant from Google



Effort Will Increase Number of STEM Professionals Teaching Middle School Students  

BOSTON, MA – December 16, 2010 –Citizen Schools, one of the nation’s leading education programs that partners with middle schools to extend the learning day with innovative academic and apprenticeship programs, today announced a grant from the Google-advised fund at the Tides Foundation to connect middle school students with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals, increasing the pipeline of traditionally underrepresented minorities and girls pursuing careers in STEM fields.  Professionals will teach apprenticeships where students learn directly from experts in the STEM field.

Since 1995, Citizen Schools has been bringing professionals into the classroom to volunteer to teach middle school students.  Each year, approximately four thousand volunteers work closely with Citizen Schools staff to teach ten-week courses that expose students to new fields and careers.  Apprenticeships emphasize the relevance of academic skills and enable students to apply the skills they are learning to authentic projects.

Over the past four years, nearly 200 Google employee volunteers in California, New York, and Massachusetts have led more than 80 apprenticeship courses, focused primarily on the STEM fields, through Citizen Schools.  This fall alone, more than 60 Google employees are teaching nearly twenty apprenticeships ranging from animation to robotics to computer game design.  In addition, Google has representation on numerous Citizen Schools advisory boards, including a National Science and Technology Advisory Committee.  

Google’s national support will include employee volunteer, monetary and in-kind support.  This will enable Citizen Schools to increase the number of STEM apprenticeships taught this year to 30% of the total number of apprenticeships taught by all Citizen Schools volunteers across the country.  In addition, Citizen Schools will develop new STEM apprenticeship curricula aligned with national learning standards, as well as increase staff training and curriculum development focused on academic skill building in math.  The investment will also support Citizen Schools’ STEM evaluation projects. 

This announcement comes at a time of great concern about STEM education nationally.  American students are falling behind their international peers in science and math literacy.  The Obama Administration has consistently called for improved STEM education and launched 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. 

“Citizen Schools is thrilled to welcome additional Google support.  Google’s volunteers infuse relevance, spark new interests, and inspire motivation for our students,” said Eric Schwarz, Citizen Schools Co-founder and CEO. “Google’s investment in helping us expand our work with STEM professionals is especially important as the country looks for solutions to the challenges we are facing with science and math education.”

In addition to learning science skills, Citizen Schools’ students are engaging with science professionals in a powerful hands-on way.  Working directly with professionals enables students to recognize the connection between current learning and future college and career opportunities.  A recent survey by the Lemelson-MIT program reported that “nearly two-thirds of teens indicated that they may be discouraged from pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics because they do not know anyone who works in these fields or understand what people in these fields do.”  In Citizen Schools’ STEM apprenticeships, students work alongside potential role models from the STEM fields, and learn firsthand about the academic preparation – including college attainment – that are prerequisites for success in those fields. 

“Google employees have naturally gravitated to the Citizen Schools model of hands on education outside of the classroom,” said Matt Dunne Head of Community Affairs for Google.  “We are delighted to provide additional financial support to strengthen the organization’s ability to leverage more IT professionals to expand achievement in science, technology, engineering and math.”

About Citizen Schools Founded in Boston in 1995, Citizen Schools is a leading national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for low-income children across the country.  The organization uniquely mobilizes thousands of adult volunteers to help improve student achievement by teaching skill-building apprenticeships. 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. Citizen Schools currently operates at 37 middle schools in seven states, serving 4,400 students and engaging 4,000 volunteers annually.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Citizen Schools has been named as a national winner of Fast Company magazine's Social Capitalist Award three times and was chosen as a winner of the Skoll Foundation's Award for Social Entrepreneurship. 

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