The National Math and Science Initiative: Science Education Grants

OVERVIEW: Started in 2007, this nonprofit brings together leaders from government, business, and philanthropy with the mission to improve student performance in STEM, which it does by putting resources into successful STEM ed projects and replicating them nationwide. NMSI has established a flagship College Readiness Program, which serves as the focus of its initiatives and partnerships. It also provides resources through its Laying the Foundation program, and partners with the UTeach Institute to educate the next cohort of STEM teachers.

IP TAKE: Some of the largest funding efforts in STEM education move through NMSI, and its work supports both students and teachers to promote improvements in this area. Universities and state-based education groups have been among the top recipients of support from this funder.

PROFILE: In 2005, a blue-ribbon task force commissioned by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Research Council found that math and science education in the country was severely behind in comparison to other nations. To counter this looming crisis for the U.S. economy, the National Math and Science Initiative was established in 2007. ExxonMobil, which committed $125 million to the venture at the outset, and the Gates and Dell foundations, are among some of NMSI’s major supporters.

NMSI’s mission is to improve student performance in the critical subjects of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). To that end, it works to transform teaching, schools, and education in the United States.

The main strategy behind NMSI's approach isn't so much to invent new solutions to the problem of lagging math and science education, but rather to “identify and replicate proven programs that can be scaled up and rolled out nationally to make an impact in classrooms today.” Therefore, NMSI has invested in providing professional development seminars for teachers of all grade levels, giving AP students and teachers the resources they need to succeed.

NMSI runs its own programs, and also partners with programs which have similar results to help scale its initiatives. NMSI is devoted to helping solve the STEM crisis in the United States, so it looks for partners committed to helping both the student and teacher. Its three focuses: College Readiness Program, Laying the Foundation, and UTeach Expansion Program, target both groups with the goal of providing the tools for students to succeed.

Some of the biggest recipients of NMSI funding are state-based education groups. For example, NMSI recently channeled $3.1 million to A+ College Ready, a group that "works to increase dramatically the number of students in Alabama taking math, science, and English AP courses, earning qualifying scores on AP exams and attending and succeeding in college.” That backing for English AP is worth noting, since NMSI also supports English teachers through trainings as well as resources like SAT vocabulary study lessons and exercises.

A number of universities have also been awarded funds from NMSI through involvement in its UTeach Expansion Program, which aims "to recruit and train math and science teachers." NMSI says this program "has produced a steady increase in the number of highly trained teachers with a strong background in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects." UTeach is expected to produce more than 9,000 math and science teachers in the United States by 2020.

You can see a list of the leading partner organizations on NMSI's website here (dollar amounts allocated for specific grant programs are available by reviewing the organization's Form 990 tax filings).

For organizations interested in establishing a relationship with NMSI, start by requesting a consultation. Math, science, or English teachers might also be interested to enroll in a teacher training at an LTF Summer Institute. Enrollment is free for senior UTeach students and alumni, and a “limited number” of “induction scholarships” for other alumni are also available.

PEOPLE:

  • Matthew Randazzo, CEO
  • Gregg Fleisher, President
  • Tracy Epp, Executive Vice President and COO

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