WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) won $2,992,325 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program to use innovative methods, like robotics instruction and career mentors, to strengthen the mathematics skills of middle school students and get more students involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
“Science and math education are the key to our nation’s future and it’s important that Baltimore City students have access to the technology and innovative teaching methods that will help them master these subjects,” said Senator Cardin. “This federal grant from the Department of Education will provide BCPS middle-school students with a sound educational background in math and science.”
“Education is the opportunity ladder of this nation and early education is a critical rung in that ladder,” Senator Mikulski said. “Students with STEM backgrounds are in demand today, so they can fill the jobs of tomorrow. Every student deserves a chance to excel in those fields. This federal funding will help show Baltimore City students that STEM isn’t just fun – it’s the key to a good job and a promising future.”
“To create jobs, expand opportunity, and give our kids the future they deserve, we have to succeed in spurring innovation,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “In Maryland, we continue to focus on STEM education in our schools to help us create jobs through innovation and increase our global competitiveness. I’d like to congratulate Baltimore City Public schools for receiving this grant, and I’d like to thank President Obama, and Maryland’s outstanding Congressional delegation for understanding that the most important modern investments we make are investment in the talents, skills, education, creativity and ingenuity of our people. Working together, we can return to the urgent work of building up our children’s future.”
“By increasing the aptitude of our students in science and math, we are helping to prepare our children the workforce of tomorrow,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “Senators Mikulski and Cardin know that improved STEM education is the key to growing the city for years to come. I am grateful for their commitment to Baltimore’s schoolchildren.”
BCPS will use the funds to evaluate and refine its Middle School STEM Summer Learning Program, which provides additional mathematics and robotics instruction so students can increase their mathematics aptitude and develop interest STEM fields while immersed in a college-going culture. BCPS will also use the funds to provide professional development to participating teachers, developing rigorous and engaging coursework and providing students with an opportunity to experience postsecondary study and careers in STEM through mentors.
The Middle School STEM Summer Learning program already has a record of improving student performance and seeks to completely eliminate summer learning loss for program participants. Official partners for the project are the Fund for Educational Excellence and Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Other partners include IBM, Northrup Grumman, Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University and Coppin State University.
The award to BCPS is one of 23 Investing in Innovation (i3) grants, which totaled $150 million in 2011. Another Baltimore organization, the nonprofit Success for All Foundation, also won $2,999,968 to create, implement and evaluate early literacy programs in school districts in Pennsylvania, Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.
The 23 finalists were selected from nearly 600 applicants and must now secure matching private matching funds by December 9, 2011, in order to receive their grant. This year’s applicants included school districts, groups of districts, and nonprofits in partnership with districts or a consortium of schools. Preference was given to applicants that demonstrated support for improving early learning outcomes, increasing college access and success, addressing the unique needs of students with disabilities and limited English proficient students, or improving productivity or technology.
Despite reduced funding, the Department anticipates awarding nearly half as many grants in 2011 as the 49 awarded in 2010, given extensive representation of “Development” projects among the highest-rated applications. Awards will be made in mid to late December.
The President’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposes continued funding education innovation with a request for $300 million to support a third round of i3 grants.