At White House College Opportunity Event, New Commitments Announced to Help Low-Income Students Succeed in STEM Fields

At yesterday’s event on College Opportunity, the President and First Lady called for a sustained all-hands-on-deck effort to increase college opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged students in America. The event included remarks from the President, the First Lady, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, as well as the announcement of more than 100 new commitments from college and university leaders, foundations, non-profits, and others in support of this critical goal.

 A key focus of yesterday’s College Opportunity event was the importance of helping more low-income and disadvantaged youth succeed in critical science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.  As noted in a 2012 report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), less than 40% of students who start college enrolled in a STEM field complete with a STEM degree. For low-income and disadvantaged students, the numbers are even lower.

 That’s why we are excited that a wide range of organizations are responding to the President’s call to action by announcing new steps to boost STEM achievement, including:

  • A multi-year $95 million effort by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Helmsley Charitable Trust to increase the STEM degree completion rate for college students, with a focus on disadvantaged students.
  • Doubling of the Posse Foundation STEM partner institutions, with new partners Davidson College, Georgetown University, Middlebury College, Pomona College, and Smith College, joining existing STEM Posse partners, Brandeis University, Bryn Mawr College, Franklin & Marshall College, Texas A&M University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. Over the next five years these ten schools will provide 500 students from diverse, urban backgrounds who are often overlooked, a total of $70 million in full-tuition, four-year scholarship to pursue STEM degrees.
  • Continued momentum for the 100kin10 coalition which is working to meet the President’s goal of preparing 100,000 excellent STEM teachers over a decade.  With more than $70M raised to support over 37,000 teachers since its launch, 100kin10 is announcing $12.5M in new commitments and the launch of their third Fund.
  • Leadership from innovative non-profits, such as iMentor, which is committing to match 20,000 first-generation college students with mentors, Blue Engine, which will help an additional 10,000 students get college-ready with rigorous small-group instruction, and Khan Academy, which is developing a new college advising and counseling section, along with new college-prep features that focus students on the specific content they need to be prepared for college math placement tests.
  • Direct commitments from more than 20 colleges and universities to increase STEM success, including steps such as Wesleyan University launching a new STEM summer bridge program, Wellesley College creating a career opportunities in science program to support more women from low income communities to pursue STEM careers, the University of Washington committing to increase the number of underrepresented minority students graduating annually with STEM degrees from the current 290 to 500 by 2025, Carnegie Mellon embarking on a Computer Science For All Campaign to broaden interest and participation in computing for K-12 students, and Oregon Tech expanding an effort to work with students in 14 local districts on applied-science experiences.

View a full list of commitments announced at yesterday’s White House Event on College Opportunity here, get a copy of the White House report on Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students here, and learn about an exciting Education Datapalooza that took place earlier this week, here.

Danielle Carnival is a Senior Policy Advisor at OSTP and Kumar Garg is Assistant Director for Learning and Innovation at OSTP. 

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