MRO Magazine

As White House Focuses Nation’s Attention on Astronomy, STEM Funders Network Announces Goal for 100 City and Regional STEM Networks

October 28, 2015
By Business Wire News


Building on more than a decade of research into successful STEM collaborations, the STEM Funders Network and 350 committed local funders and organizations are announcing a five-year effort to create 100 tight-knit local STEM networks—STEM ecosystems—that bring together broad-scale, cross-sector collaborations to nurture and scale effective science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning opportunities for all young people, especially girls and underserved populations. Arizona SciTech’s participation is a demonstration of their existing progress in developing a strong STEM community and recognition of their commitment to continue this work. Arizona SciTech is anchored at both the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Technology Council Foundation, in collaboration with the Arizona Board of Regents, the Arizona Science Center, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona.

The national STEM Ecosystems Initiative was launched in September 2015 with 27 inaugural communities, more than $20 million in funding, and a goal of reaching 600,000 teachers and students in its first three years. Arizona SciTech is one of the 27 inaugural communities participating in an upcoming workshop at the White House, which will be focused on convening and helping to expand a growing community of practice of local leaders who are expanding STEM opportunities in their communities.

“The White House Astronomy Night exemplifies how bringing together scientists, astronomers, industry leaders and others can inspire youth and stargazers from across the country,” said SFN co-chairs Gerald Solomon, executive director, Samueli Foundation, and Ron Ottinger, executive director, Noyce Foundation. “The STEM Ecosystems Initiative creates these kinds of partnerships locally, and in a sustained way, to ensure 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.”

“Rich, engaging STEM education is a crucial underpinning of a vibrant economy,” said Steve Zylstra, President and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “Tomorrow’s tech companies will be founded and staffed by the young men and women in classrooms today. Programs like this one ensure provide opportunities for our youth to engage with the world around them through the lenses of science, engineering and mathematics.”

The 27 communities in the initial cohort of a national Community of Practice are demonstrating cross-sector collaborations to deliver rigorous, effective preK-16 instruction in STEM learning. These collaborations happen in schools and beyond the classroom—in afterschool and summer programs, at home, in science centers, libraries and other places, both virtual and physical. They spark young people’s engagement, develop their knowledge, strengthen their persistence, and nurture their sense of identity and belonging in STEM disciplines. 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.

Launched in Denver at the Clinton Global Initiative, the STEM Funders Network STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative forms a national Community of Practice with expert coaching and support from leaders such as superintendents, scientists, industry and others. The first gathering of this Community of Practice will be hosted at the White House in November.

The following sites were selected from an invited pool of 70+ applicants to join the STEM Ecosystems Initiative’s first cohort, creating a national STEM Community of Practice:

  • Arizona SciTech Ecosystem (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Bay Area STEM Ecosystem (San Jose, CA)
  • BoSTEM (Boston, MA)
  • Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative (Chicago, IL)
  • Colorado STEM (Denver, CO)
  • East Syracuse Minoa Central School District STEM Learning Ecosystem (East Syracuse, NY)
  • ecosySTEM KC (Kansas City, MO)
  • Great Lakes Bay Regional STEM Initiative (Freeland, MI)
  • Greater Austin STEM Ecosystem (Austin, TX)
  • Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative (Cincinnati, OH)
  • Indiana STEM Ecosystem Initiative (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership in Western New York (Buffalo, NY)
  • EvanSTEM (Evanston, IL)
  • Los Angeles Regional STEM Hub (Los Angeles, CA)
  • NC STEM Ecosystem: Driving the Future (Research Triangle Park, NC)
  • Northeast Ohio STEM Learning Ecosystem (Cleveland, OH)
  • NYC STEM Education Network (New York, NY)
  • Orange County STEM Initiative (Corona Del Mar, CA)
  • Oregon’s Statewide Regional STEM Hub Network (Salem, OR)
  • Pittsburgh Regional STEM Ecosystem (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Providence After School Alliance (PASA) AfterZone STEM – FUSE Initiative (Providence, RI)
  • Queens 2020 (Corona, NY)
  • San Diego EcosySTEM (San Diego, CA)
  • STEMcityPHL Regional Network (Conshohocken, PA)
  • Tampa Bay STEM Network (Tampa, FL)
  • Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance (Tulsa, OK)
  • Ventura County STEM Regional Network (Learning Ecosystem, Camarillo, CA)

Learn more about the initiative at

About the STEM Funders Network

The SFN was formed in 2011 by a small group of funders from the Grant Makers for Education community to focus attention and better coordinate funding in support of robust STEM programs across the country. The SFN members fund individually, as well as collectively, and their work has supported the adoption and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards in all 50 states, as well as dozens of STEM programs of promise. For more information, please contact

STEM Ecosystems funding members of the STEM Funders Network include: Samueli Foundation, Noyce Foundation, Overdeck Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, and Simons Foundation, with support by Amgen Foundation, Broadcom Foundation, KDK Harman Foundation, Pinkerton Foundation and Tiger Woods Foundation.

About Arizona SciTech

Arizona SciTech is committed to promoting the celebration of science, technology and engineering across the state. Spearheaded by its Foundational Partners the Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Science Center, Arizona State University, Arizona Technology Council Foundation and The University of Arizona, Arizona SciTech’s premier initiative is its annual science festival held in February and March. Through a series of more than 800 expos, workshops, conversations, exhibitions and tours held in diverse neighborhoods throughout the state, the festival excites and informs Arizonans age 3 to 103 how STEM will drive our state. Visit for more information.

Media contact:
Linda Capcara, 480-229-7090
Organization contact:
Arizona Technology Council
Steven G. Zylstra, 602-422-9447