IMLS Announces $1.9 Million Investment in STEM, Making Education for Underserved Youth

Department of Education Funding to Expand Work with Museums, Kids Across U.S.

News Release, Insitute of Museum and Libary Services

Washington, DC—IMLS is pleased to announce $1.9 million in new funding from the Department of Education expanding an initiative that introduces underserved youth to STEM and making-based activities. New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) will continue to lead this project through a cooperative agreement with IMLS.

Originally initiated as a pilot in 2014, the project provides elementary and middle school students with engaging activities to inspire an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with the aim of improving retention in STEM disciplines.

This national project, now expanded both in scope and scale, will equip children’s museums and science centers with making activities, resources, tools, and training, enabling them to train up to forty 21st Century Community Learning Centers across eight states, with the goal of reaching up to 1,000 students. A new survey, part of the third-party evaluation, will assess the outcomes of the project, including changes in interest, skills, and behaviors related to STEM and making among youth participants.

“STEM-based learning is vital for young people to thrive in today’s world, no matter their interests, backgrounds, or the professions they may ultimately choose,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “By strengthening the inquiry skills that are inherently part of STEM learning, museums are uniquely positioned to spark curiosity among youth about the way their world works.”

Seven children’s museums and science centers are partnering with NYSCI to deliver the program in the 2019-2020 school year:

  • The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Science Works in Ashland, Oregon
  • Frost Science Museum in Miami, Florida
  • Betty Brynn Children’s Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Scott Family Amaze in Bentonville, Arkansas
  • Children’s Museum of Houston, Texas

“This multi-layered, cross-sector collaboration brings together the best possible resources from children’s museums, science centers, and afterschool providers,” said Paula Gangopadhyay, Deputy Director of Museum Services. “By leveraging collective learning and making significant programmatic improvements, we are looking forward to impacting more than double the number of underserved students than before.”

This project supports IMLS’s strategic plan (PDF, 4.6MB) goals of promoting lifelong learning, building capacity, and increasing public access. For more information, please visit

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