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SHAHEEN INTRODUCES BILL TO SUPPORT, EXPAND AFTERSCHOOL STEM EDUCATION PROGRAMS

June 26, 2014

(Washington, DC) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today introduced legislation to strengthen and expand afterschool programs that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and help encourage students to pursue careers in STEM. The Supporting Afterschool STEM Act would provide resources to support afterschool STEM programing and strengthen state, local and community partnerships that research has demonstrated is critical in building STEM-relevant skills and interest among students.

“Encouraging students to pursue careers in STEM fields will help meet future economic demand for skilled, high-tech workers in the 21st century,” Shaheen said. “Giving young people the opportunity to get involved in STEM after school and develop STEM-related skills at a young age will help foster our economic competitiveness in the future and ultimately help grow New Hampshire’s economy.”

Research shows that most students who go on to pursue STEM fields in college and beyond are exposed to and engaged in STEM activities by the 8th grade; by bringing STEM education and activites to students in afterschool programs, Shaheen’s bill will help grow our increasingly important STEM workforce.

“The STEM Education Coalition is proud to stand behind Senator Shaheen’s Supporting Afterschool STEM Act,” said James Brown, Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition. “One of our Coalition’s top goals is to ensure that we are using every opportunity possible to improve student success in the critical STEM fields, and this bill will help advance the notion that afterschool and informal learning programs have a powerful role to play in addressing our national challenges in STEM education. We need to leverage federal programs in this area, along with private-sector and non-profit efforts to ensure that we are improving student access to high quality afterschool STEM experiences – and this bill will help do that.”  

“We commend Senator Shaheen for her ongoing commitment to afterschool programs and their role in STEM education,” said Jodi Grant, Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance. “In New Hampshire and across the country, afterschool providers have enthusiastically embraced STEM as an important component of their offerings for children. Many providers want and need support and technical assistance to grow and scale their STEM programs. Senator Shaheen’s bill recognizes this need and will help them get those resources, leveraging existing support systems like the New Hampshire Afterschool Network and other such statewide afterschool networks.”

“The New Hampshire Afterschool Network is pleased to endorse this bill,” said Lynn Stanley, NH Afterschool Network Lead and Afterschool Master Professional. “Afterschool and summer programs provide children and youth hands-on, experiential activities that encourage an interest in STEM learning. Younger children exposed to fun and engaging STEM activities outside the school day are more likely to take upper level science and math classes in high school. This sets them on an educational pathway leading to STEM fields and careers.”  

Shaheen has made promoting STEM education one of her top priorities in the Senate and is a recognized leader by STEM Connector in their 100 Women in STEM publication. Shaheen helped launch and co-chairs the Senate STEM Caucus and has been a longtime supporter of efforts that promote programs like FIRST Robotics since her days as New Hampshire’s governor. She has met with students across New Hampshire to promote STEM programs and promote policies like the Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program to provide high schools with new incentives to invest in STEM programs. 

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