Wenatchee School District Awarded Paul G. Allen Foundation Grant for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation announced on January 29, 2013 the awarding of 6.9 million dollars in grant funds, including a grant to Wenatchee School District for developing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) opportunities for students.

Jon DeJong, Assistant Superintendent of Organizational and Development, spearheaded the effort and wrote the grant application. “The grant is for $100,000,” says DeJong. “We were granted for one year for planning purposes for STEM and project-based learning.”

The grant will help fund activities to study and fully implement STEM education in grades K-12, and develop an implementation plan for STEM-related, project-based learning. DeJong says a STEM committee has been established in order to create a clear definition of STEM, create a long-term vision for the district, and to ultimately make decision about STEM activities, curriculum and/or programs that will fit into the district K-12.

“We intend to have an implementation plan laid out, that’s one of the deliverables for the grant,” explains DeJong.

DeJong says the committee is researching and studying STEM options, with the continuum running from building a STEM curriculum within the school district to purchasing a proprietary turnkey system. Wenatchee’s grant proposal included four main purposes: 1) improve achievement in science, particularly among Hispanic students; 2) positively impact students’ attitudes toward the subjects of math and science; 3) focus on career potential by increasing the number of graduating students that intend to pursue either STEM occupations or further education in STEM areas; and 4) strengthen community support related to math and science instruction in the Wenatchee School District.

“Ultimately for this to be really successful we need to have community partners,” DeJong says. “There’s a strong career connection, and a big part of that career connection is through community partners.  The best programs don’t exist just inside the four walls of the school.”

Launched by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen and Jo Lynn Allen in 1988, the Allen family’s philanthropy is dedicated to transforming lives and strengthening communities by fostering innovation, creating knowledge and promoting social progress. Since inception, the Foundation has awarded over $454 million to more than 1,400 nonprofit groups to support and advance their critical charitable endeavors in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The Foundation’s funding programs nurture the arts, engage children in learning, address the needs of vulnerable populations, advance scientific and technological discoveries, and provide financial relief amid the economic downturn.