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PA Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network announces STEM Ambassadors


PA Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network announces STEM Ambassadors

Local educator selected for cohort – Jenni Hoffman, STEM Integration Teacher and Integration Coach, Oley Valley School District

Program develops STEM policy leaders in Pennsylvania, recognizes 31 members of the second cohort

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) has announced the second cohort of the Pennsylvania STEM Ambassadors Program, which aims to shape the future of STEM education in the commonwealth by targeting vital policy conversations to legislative leadership in the areas of STEM Learning ecosystems, computer science, apprenticeships, state and federal policy for formal and informal education, and workforce needs.

“Afterschool and summer programs play a major role in providing meaningful science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning experiences to diverse groups of youth and PSAYDN is proud to join the ambassadors and partners in this important work,” said PSAYDN director Laura Saccente.

Thirty-one members of the 2019 cohort include representatives from K-12, higher education, business and industry, afterschool and summer programming, and early learning who will participate in the 10-month program to advance policy goals through outreach, education, relationships with policymakers and take on greater leadership responsibilities to develop a stronger voice in STEM education discussions and issues.

“With Governor Wolf’s commitment to the PAsmart initiative, workforce development realignment through career programming and bipartisan support for essential workforce needs, PA STEM Ambassadors are essential to increasing STEM opportunities in the commonwealth,” Saccente said. “The PA STEM Ambassadors will be a vital part in shaping these policies.”

Program training is also made possible through a partnership with the Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) and the national STEM Education Coalition.  Ron Cowell, currently president of EPLC, with 24 years of experience serving in the Pennsylvania General Assembly (1974-1998), lauded the program. “Informed and supportive public policies are vital to promoting STEM education throughout the commonwealth, and the PA STEM Ambassadors Program strengthens the STEM advocacy effort by building effective relationships with lawmakers who decide these policies.”

Throughout the program, PA STEM Ambassadors will be briefed on state and federal policy initiatives and take a leadership role in advancing STEM education policy priorities through various advocacy streams.

“The STEM Education Coalition is proud to have another opportunity to engage with the Pennsylvania afterschool and STEM education communities. Advocating the need for increased access to STEM education provides students – especially underrepresented groups – with innovative, hands-on learning opportunities that have been proven to improve skills and spark curiosity,” said James Brown, executive director of the STEM Education Coalition.

Also serving as a facilitator, Chris Neitzey, director of STEM Initiatives at the Afterschool Alliance, added, “Afterschool and summer programs foster STEM identity in young people through hands-on learning and career exploration. By reinforcing and supplementing formal STEM learning, afterschool and summer programs are critical partners in an effective and robust STEM ecosystem. The Afterschool Alliance is proud to continue our support for the PA STEM Ambassadors program, which serves as an innovative advocacy and engagement initiative for STEM learning.”

The 2019 ambassadors convened today for the first of monthly trainings and events through the support of the  Center for Schools and Communities, a statewide training and consulting organization that offers a continuum of efforts around social and emotional learning, positive youth development, school safety and youth violence prevention, cultural competence, equity, education leadership, family support and community service integration, and early childhood care and development.

To meet the 2019 PA STEM Ambassadors, go to  #PaSTEMAmbassador