A STEM District Approach: Supporting Education Equity

In May, 2019, the MLSC announced $1.14 million in STEM equipment and professional development funding through its STEM District Grant Program. Nearly 12,000 students across 36 public middle schools and high schools in the five school districts of Boston, Brockton, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield will benefit from the education equity initiative.

This new pilot program awards grants to large, under-resourced school districts to support comprehensive and strategic plans for adequately supporting STEM education across multiple schools. By awarding districts, rather than individual schools, the MLSC hopes to provide coordinated professional development and student engagement opportunities from multiple schools, thereby better addressing skills gaps and inequities district-wide.

The schools receiving funding have either not previously received grants from the Center or received significantly less funding relative to other schools. They have disproportionately higher populations of underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students or serve student populations that have historically underperformed in STEM subjects.

Since 2011, the MLSC has awarded nearly $18 million in STEM equipment and professional development funding to 191 public high schools and middle schools located throughout Massachusetts. The grants have enabled vocational-technical and economically disadvantaged public schools to purchase necessary lab equipment and supplies, as well as state-of-the-art tools and technology to better train and prepare students for life sciences careers. The program also offered funding to support teacher professional development related to curriculum implementation and equipment training.

The MLSC’s STEM equipment and professional development grants have leveraged more than $1 million in matching funds from industry partners and served schools in 13 of the 14 Massachusetts counties and 24 of the 26 Gateway Cities. Twenty-eight percent of all Massachusetts public school students attend a school that has received an MLSC grant.

Historically, the Center has provided nearly $550,000 to more than 80 middle schools and high schools to support teacher professional development. This STEM funding facilitates training teachers to use the equipment and provides access to relevant curricula and activities that support learning goals throughout the academic year.