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Announcement made at US News STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference

Baltimore, MD, May 19, 2016 – The STEM Funders Network (SFN) announced today that the Carbon/Schuylkill and Luzerne County SHINE programs have been selected as one of the 10 STEM Learning Ecosystems to join the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative, a national initiative, initially developed in 2015-16 beginning with 27 STEM Learning Ecosystems communities across the United States.

Led by the STEM Funders Network, the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative is built on over a decade of National Academy and related research focused on how to cultivate successful STEM collaborations. The selected sites from across the United States have committed to collaborate and share their work towards this common vision.

“These communities have the potential of reaching millions of young people both in and out-of-school with innovative STEM learning opportunities,” said SFN co-chairs Gerald Solomon, executive Director, Samueli Foundation, and Ron Ottinger, Director of STEM Next. “It is an initiative to design the kind of infrastructure that ensures STEM learning is truly ‘everywhere’ and is a top priority for communities supporting youth to develop the skills and knowledge they need for success in a global workforce.”

“We have already seen the success stories that SHINE has helped produce here in our region of Pennsylvania, and it is very exciting to be able to share our own experiences with others. Working with other leaders in STEM education can only strengthen SHINE and provide even better opportunities and brighter futures for our kids,” said Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11th).

“SHINE is quickly earning a national reputation for its STEM based after-school curriculum,” said State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon). “Joining the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative will add value to the quality of education of every SHINE student, and contribute to the growing body of data that demonstrates the importance of investing in STEM based after-school programs.”

“The SHINE program at Lehigh Carbon Community College serves students who may not have access to this kind of STEM curriculum otherwise,” said Lehigh Carbon County Community College President Dr. Ann D. Bieber. “Developing knowledge in STEM is one of our key goals, as we work to give children the skills to succeed in the workplace, which for them may seem so far into the future. We understand the importance of instilling capabilities in students early, and are honored that the LCCC SHINE program was recognized nationally for this work. SHINE is a great example of the kind of impact we can have when we work together.”

“Lehigh Carbon Community College SHINE program is extremely proud to be part of this grassroots STEM community movement, and we look forward to working with all of our partners to expand opportunities in STEM education to area youth,” Rachel Strucko, Director of the Lehigh Carbon Community College Carbon and Schuylkill SHINE program.

“SHINE’s involvement in the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative will allow Wilkes University to share its expertise in STEM education in support of this new opportunity for children in our community,” said Dr. Patrick F. Leahy, president of Wilkes University.

“We are thrilled that the Carbon/Schuylkill/Luzerne County Ecosystem and our network of community partners will be the vehicle for exposing thousands of children to STEM education,” said Jeanne Miller, Interim Director, SHINE of Luzerne County at Wilkes University.

The initiative is focused on bringing all in and out of school learning platforms together, from PreK through higher education including the voice of workforce, to ensure that ALL people have equal access and opportunity to succeed in the STEM fields.

The 10 communities will join the initial cohort of the national STEM Community of Practice, having demonstrated cross-sector collaborations that deliver rigorous, effective preK-16 instruction in STEM learning in schools and beyond the classroom – in afterschool and summer programs, science centers, libraries, at home and other places both virtual and physical— that spark young people’s engagement, develops their knowledge, strengthens their persistence and nurtures their sense of identity and belonging in the STEM disciplines, leading to building a vibrant and competitive STEM workforce. As these STEM Ecosystems evolve, a student will be able to connect what they learn in and out of school with real-world learning opportunities, leading to STEM-related careers and opportunities.

Learn more about the initiative at stemecosystems.org.

About the STEM Funders Network: The STEM Funders Network brings together grant makers working in STEM to learn from one another, leverage their collective resources and collaborate on high-impact projects they could not undertake alone. The vision of the STEM Funders Network is that all U.S. students should have equal opportunity to engage in high-quality STEM learning experiences that will enhance their ability to succeed in a STEM career or other chosen path.

About SHINE:

SHINE in Carbon and Schuylkill counties is administered by Lehigh Carbon Community College and provides academic support for students from seven school districts. The comprehensive 42-week after school/summer program includes kindergarten home visits, 1st – 4th grade STEM Centers, 5th – 8th grade STEM Career Academies, and high school career awareness/mentoring opportunities.

SHINE of Luzerne County is a three-year pilot program based on the Carbon/Schuylkill model. The program is operating in five area school districts. Wilkes University is the educational host. It is an innovative and data driven after-school program that improves academic performance, increases school attendance, reduces juvenile crime and breaks the cycle of poverty in NEPA – all by empowering families through education.

The two SHINE programs currently provide services to more than 1,000 students.