President Obama Announces STEM AmeriCorps, Initiative Supports Youth from Low-Income Communities in Science

First Posted: Apr 23, 2013 10:27 AM EDT

President Obama announced Monday at the White House Science Fair that the Corporation for National and Community Services (CNCS) will launch a new STEM AmeriCorps initiative to spur student interest in science, technology, engineering and math education.

STEM AmeriCorps is a multi-year initiative to place hundreds of AmeriCorps members in nonprofits across the country to mobilize STEM professionals to inspire young people to excel in STEM education.

"By strengthening STEM education for students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, AmeriCorps will spark greater interest in math and science and build ladders of opportunity these students might otherwise never have," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS, which oversees AmeriCorps, according to a press release. "STEM AmeriCorps will also help our nation compete for the jobs and industries of the future by encouraging more students to go into STEM professions."

CNCS will begin by placing 50 full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members with For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), a nonprofit that inspires an appreciation of science in youth through robotic competition.

The VISTA members will serve in low-income communities across the country. They will recruit volunteers and support teams of students to participate in FIRST competitions, making it possible for more students to be exposed to the STEM fields. Through a second initiative, AmeriCorps VISTA will also partner with leading nonprofits in the maker movement to create maker spaces in high schools around the country.

These investments will lay the foundation for an AmeriCorps grant competition later this year when STEM will be a priority, allowing the funding of hundreds of STEM-focused AmeriCorps members across the country. AmeriCorps members will recruit and support thousands of STEM professionals to volunteer through in-school, after-school, and other academic programs. To maximize this opportunity, CNCS will pursue partnerships with both the private sector and other federal agencies.

"Many of America's future challenges, from finding new sources of energy to responding to threats to our national security, are going to require new technologies. FIRST and our more than 100,000 volunteers share the vision of inspiring young people to dream of becoming science and technology leaders," said Bob Tuttle, Interim President of FIRST. "We are grateful to the Corporation for National and Community Service for supporting this vision by providing AmeriCorps VISTAs to help."

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