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NAPE Gets NSF Money To Expand State STEM Training

Equity in STEM education efforts are getting a boost from the National Science Foundation. The government agency recently granted $2.5 million to the Education Foundation of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) to expand its science-technology-engineering-mathematics work to 22 states from its current coverage in 12 states.

NAPE brings together government entities, corporations, and other types of organizations to advocate for equity and diversity in classrooms and the workplace. In 2007 it launched the STEM Equity Pipeline to help schools change their STEM-related programs in ways that would improve enrollment, retention, and graduation of girls and women and other under-represented groups in high school and community colleges. The work, which goes by the name of PIPESTEM (the Program Improvement Process for Equity in STEM) helps train teachers and school counselors through workshops, webinars, research, and best practice sharing.

The program estimated that as of March 2012, it had reached a total of 20,414 educators with its professional development efforts. Among the several successes NAPE highlighted a couple.

Through a $50,000 grant awarded by the Motorola Solutions Foundation, Illinois U-46 School District had five high school teams working on implementing PIPESTEM. All five high schools reported increases in their female enrollment in STEM programs. For example,
Streamwood High School said its female enrollment in an introduction to engineering and design class had increased from eight girls to 24 during one period.

A California STEM Equity Pipeline participant sought to fill an instructional aide position in his auto technology program, for which he chose to hire a highly qualified female applicant. Over two years, the number of females in the program increased from four to 15. The teacher attributed the change to the hiring of the female aide, a decision he said he made because of what he had learned from the Equity Pipeline training he'd received.

Said Pat Elizondo, a Xerox senior vice president and member of the NAPE Education Foundation Board of Directors, the latest award "solidifies our ability at NAPE to execute on our aggressive plan for 2013 and beyond. NAPE is making measureable progress in changing the face of the STEM workforce."

Noting that women in STEM occupations earn a third more than those in non-STEM occupations and that the wage gap between men and women in STEM jobs is significantly smaller than in other fields, NAPE CEO Mimi Lufkin, added, "Increasing the diversity of the STEM workforce is good for business and individuals. Business benefits from increased innovation and competitiveness while individuals can become economically self-sufficient by participating in a high-skill, high-wage career in STEM."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.