Grant from GlaxoSmithKline Supports STEM Education for NC Students

March 19, 2012 - North Carolina's growing network of innovative STEM-focused schools is getting a boost from a three-year, $750,000 grant from GlaxoSmithKline.

The funding from GSK will support the professional development of teachers and principals in the schools, which emphasize science, technology, engineering and math. These schools are part of a statewide STEM network, developed by the North Carolina New Schools Project in partnership with local districts, the State Board of Education, the Department of Public Instruction, higher education and businesses and industry. Mary Linda Andrews, director of community partnerships for GSK, said the STEM schools play a critical role in helping students graduate well prepared for the demands of a new economy.

"North Carolina is taking solid steps in the right direction to ensure that its workforce of the future will be ready," Andrews said. "The funding from GlaxoSmithKline will ultimately help many students graduate with the STEM knowledge and skills needed for success in college and careers."

The grant from GSK will also help sponsor an annual conference organized by the North Carolina New Schools Project for STEM educators in North Carolina and across the nation, the first of which will be held April 16-18 in Raleigh. The conference includes a symposium for students from STEM-focused schools to share research and projects.

GSK provided early support for the development of North Carolina's first STEM-focused schools, which during the last five years have developed into places of innovative approaches to teaching and learning and of real opportunity for students whose horizons might otherwise have been limited. Seven of these first nine STEM schools graduated more than 90 percent of their inaugural classes in 2011.

NCNSP President Tony Habit said GSK's support has been important to the success of the STEM schools and that the additional support helps advance educational transformation in North Carolina.

"GlaxoSmithKline's leadership for STEM education was instrumental in the establishment and professional development for those initial STEM schools," Habit said. "Their early support of STEM education, long before it became such a national focus, also was critical in helping the NC New Schools Project develop an effective approach to STEM education that is being expanded statewide. This new contribution will help more schools reach more students. "

The schools share similar career themes: health and life sciences, energy and sustainability, biotechnology and agriscience, and aerospace, advanced manufacturing and security. The networks are supported in part by the state's $400 million Race to the Top grant, awarded in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Education in a competition won by just 11 states and the District of Columbia.

As North Carolina moves forward in STEM education, the schools within the growing network will serve as models for the development of additional schools, as well as for scaling STEM education in other schools across the state.


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