Youth Service America is looking to fund middle-school based service learning projects incorporating science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curricula.
Middle school teachers, administrators, service learning coordinators and after-school staff in select states can apply for $5000 in funding to engage kids in grades six through eight in a semester-long service-learning project geared towards environmental issues.
The grants, called STEMester of Service Grants, aim to address community problems in states with the highest school dropout rates while encouraging kids to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
According to the website, environmental concerns can include green space availability, health effects, climate change, and disaster management.
The program includes $5,000 to support the program, including $1,000 for the grantee to attend YSA’s Youth Service Institute in Washington, DC, in October. Another $500 could subsidize the professional development of an “ally” at each school who could focus on making the program sustainable, and offer the grantee moral and logistical support. The program offers curriculum guides, project ideas, technical assistance, “personalized online support from YSA,” and a chance to become famous through YSA’s outreach efforts.
- August 20, 2009: Application deadline
- Early September, 2009: Notification
- Fall 2009: Training and preparation for all grantees, including attendance at the YSA’s Youth Service Institute in Washington, DC, in October
- Martin Luther King Day, January 18, 2010: STEMester of Service kicks off at middle school grantees
- Global Youth Service Day, April 23-25, 2010: STEMester of Service formally ends
- Teachers, administrators, service learning coordinators, and after-school staff at schools that include grades six, seven, and eight, where at least half the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch.
- Grantees must be in one of these states with the highest dropout rates: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and Washington.
- Grantees must be able to start participating as soon as September 2009, for training and other preparation. (Kids start getting involved starting MLK Day in January 2010).
- Projects must focus on applying science, technology, engineering and math curriculum topics to environmental issues.
- Take this eligibility quiz to get started. (After you pass the quiz, you can access application materials—free login required.)
One of the goals of the program is to further demonstrate the impact that service-learning can have on keeping students engaged in school. John Bridgeland and others’s research on dropouts show that one of the top reasons students leave schools before graduating is boredom. Engaging kids in issues they care about in their own back yard, while connecting those issues to topics they learn about in the classroom, has the potential to hook them on education and fuel their progress through high school and even beyond. Check out:
- Engaged for Success: Service Learning as a Tool for High School Drop Out Prevention (PDF) by John M. Bridgeland, John J. DiIulio, and Stuart C. Wulsin.
- Grad Nation: A Guidebook to Help Communities Tackle the Dropout Crisis (PDF) by Robert Balfanz, Joanna Hornig Fox, John M. Bridgeland, and Mary McNaught.
According to Michael Minks at Youth Service America, STEM subjects are a priority for the Corporation for National and Community Service and Learn and Serve America’s school-based programs.
Youth Service America (YSA) improves communities by increasing the number and the diversity of young people, ages 5-25, serving in substantive roles. Founded in 1986, YSA supports a global culture of engaged children and youth committed to a lifetime of service, learning, leadership, and achievement. The impact of YSA’s work through service and service-learning is measured in student achievement, workplace readiness, and healthy communities.