STEM Afterschool Innovation Grants
The application period for this grant is now closed. The 2018-2019 grant cycle will be announced in the spring of 2018.
BP, the Juneau Economic Development Council, and the Alaska Afterschool Network are excited to provide STEM Afterschool Innovation Grants to programs around the state. We are increasing our investment in Alaska’s afterschool programs to help meet the growing need for a talented STEM workforce. STEM Afterschool Innovation Grants are designed to support K-12 afterschool programs in their efforts to develop, improve, or expand innovative instructional programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) during out-of-school time.
The purpose of the grant program is to implement or expand high-quality STEM afterschool programs outside of regular school hours. One way of determining quality is the use of an assessment tool, such as the Dimensions of Success (DoS) tool. We will be looking for elements that incorporate the four broad domains described in the DoS tool in proposals.
Afterschool programs are defined as programs that take place when school is not in session and provide educational enrichment activities for students in grades K-12. Afterschool programs provide students with academic enrichment opportunities, as well as additional activities designed to complement school districts’ academic programs. Afterschool programs improve school attendance, academic achievement, in-school behavior, and reduce youth risk behaviors of participating students.
The objectives of the grant are to increase access to STEM programming during out-of-school time to increase students’ STEM identity, STEM career interest, and improve academics.
Grants of $500 to $2,000 will be awarded to K-12 afterschool providers in Alaska. Grant applications can be submitted online at http://www.jedc.org/stemak/innovationgrants or scanned and emailed to email@example.com (link sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail) and must be received no later than November 22, 2017. Award announcements will be made within one month of the application deadline.
The general guidelines for this grant are:
- Program must serve a minimum of 10 participants.
- Program must involve students and/or educators currently living in Alaska.
- Individual program sites and/or educators are eligible to apply, though larger programs should be aware that program site applications will be in competition with one another. Only one project per program site will be funded.
- Funding should not be used to supplant existing funding, such as funding from a school district, grants, or other sources of funding.
- Funding can be used to help support teacher/educator stipends, program supplies, and/or travel. A detailed budget and budget narrative are required with all applications.
- As a condition of accepting this grant award, recipients agree to have at least one staff member attend a 3 hour DoS Program Planning Tool training. Logistics for this online training will be provided with grant award notification.
- Grant funds must be used by July 31, 2018 with a final report, including pictures, submitted by August 15, 2018. Organizations are responsible for ensuring all youth photographed have photo releases for public use.
- The number of grants funded will depend on the number of applicants and funds available.
Components of a High Quality Afterschool STEM Program/Activity
We will be using the Dimensions of Success (Dos) as a general guide when evaluating proposal narratives. DoS measures twelve dimensions that fall in 4 broad domains: Features of the Learning Environment, Activity Engagement, STEM Knowledge and Practices, and Youth Development in STEM.
The first domain, Features of the Learning Environment, looks at features of the learning environment that make it suitable for STEM programming (e.g., do kids have room to explore and move freely, are the materials exciting and appropriate for the topic, is time used wisely, and is everything prepared ahead of time?).
The second domain looks at how the activity engages students: for example, they measure whether or not all students are getting opportunities to participate, whether they are doing activities that are engaging them with STEM concepts or something unrelated, and whether or not the activities are hands-on and designed to encourage students to think for themselves versus being given the answer.
The next domain looks at how the informal STEM activities are helping students understand STEM concepts, make connections, and participate in the inquiry practices that STEM professionals use (e.g., collecting data, using scientific models, building explanations, etc.). When addressing this domain, it’s important to keep in mind what these inquiry practices are (STEM Practices as defined in the Next Generation Science Standards).
The eight practices of science and engineering that are essential for all students to learn are:
1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
2. Developing and using models
3. Planning and carrying out investigations
4. Analyzing and interpreting data
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
7. Engaging in argument from evidence
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
Finally, the last domain assesses the student-facilitator and student-student interactions and how they encourage or discourage participation in STEM activities, whether or not the activities make STEM relevant and meaningful to students’ everyday lives, and the experiences. Together, these twelve dimensions capture key components of a STEM activity in an informal afterschool or summer program.
We highly encourage all applicants to download and use the DoS planning tool to guide the design and description of your activity: http://www.pearweb.org/tools/dos.html#planningtool(link is external).
We look forward to seeing the innovative projects proposed by Alaska’s afterschool educators. Grant applications can be submitted online at http://www.jedc.org/stemak/innovationgrants or scanned and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail) and must be received no later than November 22, 2017. Questions related to the grant program and/or application should be sent to Thomas Azzarella at email@example.com(link sends e-mail) or Rebecca Soza at firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail).