Cantwell Applauds Washington STEM’s Investment in Education for the 21st Century Workforce

Grants totaling $2.4 million support innovation across WA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded Washington STEM’s inaugural investment of $2.4 million to 15 initiatives statewide to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in Washington state. The new education non-profit announced the grant awards today across Washington, including in the following counties: King, Pierce, Clark, Yakima, Snohomish, Clallam, Jefferson, and Benton.

“Investing in STEM will ensure that we continue to train the best scientists, mathematicians and engineers right here in America,” Senator Cantwell said.“I applaud Washington STEM for its investment in building the workforce of the future. With the commitment of non-profits like Washington STEM, encouraging giving to our public schools, Washington state will continue to be a leader for high-tech jobs and innovation in the 21st century.”

The non-profit’s 15 grant recipients are: Washington MESA, Teach For America, Technology Access Foundation, Bellevue School District, Mercer Middle School, Federal Way High School, Lincoln High School, La Center Middle School, Burton Elementary, White Swan High School, TechREACH, Northwest Learning and Achievement Group, Neah Bay High School and Markishtum Middle School, Chimacum Middle School, and Finley Elementary School. For more information on the programs receiving funding, please visit Washington STEM’s website.

In Congress, Cantwell has been a consistent supporter of STEM education to continue building America’s long-term economic competitiveness and innovative capacity. Last year, she joined colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Engineering Education for Innovation Act, which invests in integrating engineering education into K-12 curriculum and instruction. In 2007 and 2010, shecosponsored the America COMPETES Act (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science). Cantwell helped pass the bill into law in 2007, and she helped pass it through the Senatein 2010. TheAmerica COMPETES Actinvests in STEM research and education programs, and reauthorizes the ARPA-E program (Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy), which Cantwell helped authorto invest in high-risk, high-reward clean energy technology research and development in the private sector.

Workforce projections for 2014 by the U.S. Department of Labor show that 15 of the 20 fastest growing occupations require significant science or mathematics training to successfully compete for a job. Yet American students are falling further and further behind in STEM fields. According to the ACT College Readiness report, 78 percent of U.S. high school graduates did not meet the readiness benchmark levels for one or more entry-level college courses in mathematics, science, reading, and English. According to scores from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, released on December 7, 2010, U.S. 15-year-olds rank 14th in the world in reading skills, 17th in science and 25th – below average – in math.

Cantwell believes it is critical to invest in preparing America’s students today for careers in STEM-related fields. Last month, she met with education officials, students and workforce representatives in central, eastern and southwest Washington to discuss the importance of STEM education to address workforce shortages in key technological jobs.