On Friday November 8, 2013, Maricopa Education Service Agency (MCESA) was notified by the United States Department of Education that it is one of the Highest-Rated Applications for Investing in Innovation (i3) 2013 Competition. The i3 competition is a highly competitive grant program that funded only four percent of its 618 applicants. MCESA’s proposal, titled Engineering STEM Identities, was scored in the top five of all applications in its category and will be awarded $3 million over the course of three years.
Through Engineering STEM Identities, approximately 2,300 students in 10 rural and urban school districts will be immersed in STEM cultures to explicitly build STEM identities and positively influence their persistence in STEM. Through these authentic learning experiences that give students opportunities to envision themselves as “STEM learners and workers”, research has shown that students are far more likely to pursue future STEM careers.
MCESA understands that an initiative such as this cannot be accomplished and sustained without the collaboration of multiple organizations that have a similar vision. This type of collaboration is known as the Collective Impact Model, and MCESA is currently employing this model with partners such as the Arizona STEM Network, led by Science Foundation Arizona. STEM Network’s goals of 1) Create meaningful business engagement opportunities; 2) Strengthen STEM teacher effectiveness; 3) Integrate STEM into schools and districts (in a systemic manner); and 4) Develop predictive analysis and measurable STEM education outcomes, are aligned to MCESA’s i3 grant goals, and therefore will be an important part of the collective solution to increase the quality of STEM instruction throughout Arizona.
However MCESA and STEM Network’s Collective Impact must be expanded to include more Arizona organizations that share their vision. The i3 award is contingent upon MCESA securing a private-sector match of $450,000. This match may be a combination of in-kind and/or cash support matches. Fifty percent of this match must be committed by December 6, 2013, with the remaining match committed by July 3, 2014. MCESA sees this match as an excellent opportunity for multiple organizations invested in Arizona’s future to come together for a better STEM future. As a result of acquiring the private-sector match, MCESA and the greater Arizona community will bring $3 million to Arizona schools with an investment of just $450,000.
Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Don Covey stated, “MCESA is fortunate to be supported by innovative partners that understand that an investment in STEM education is an investment in the future of this state, and I have every confidence we will successfully raise the $450,000 needed to make this critical program a reality.”