University of Pittsburgh
August 14, 2007

Pitt's Learning Policy Center Takes Steps to Enhance Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education in Pennsylvania

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-The University of Pittsburgh's Learning Policy Center (LPC) played a key role in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania receiving a $500,000 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education grant from the National Governor's Association (NGA).

The grant will be used to establish a system of coordinated STEM centers throughout the Commonwealth that will serve as the foundation for developing and implementing innovative strategies to enhance STEM education in Pennsylvania's K-12 schools. Plans are to establish five regional STEM centers and a state center to coordinate efforts across the Commonwealth. The LPC serves as a member of the design team and as lead researchers for the STEM centers.

Team Pennsylvania Foundation granted the Commonwealth $500,000 for the STEM education initiative allowing Pennsylvania to apply to NGA for the grant. Team PA Foundation funding will be used to match NGA funds with the foundation acting as grant administrator for the entire project. In addition, the Pennsylvania Departments of Labor and Industry, Education, and Community and Economic Development donated an additional $300,000 to the project.

"(The LPC) is looking to bring together the resources and expertise needed to push forward an agenda of excellence so that students can graduate from high school ready to go into high-tech occupations or college," said Mary Kay Stein, founding director of the LPC, a professor in Pitt's School of Education, and a senior scientist in the University's Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC).

To obtain the grant LPC joined a statewide collaborative effort with private foundations as well as government and nonprofit agencies that included the three Pennsylvania Departments and The Philadelphia Math Science Partnership, Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center, Philadelphia Education Fund, Catalyst Connections, and the Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board.

"The LPC's goal is to give learning a seat at the table of policy decisions, and this grant provides us with a great opportunity to do that," said Sarah Coon, executive director of LPC. "The design team includes people with expertise in workforce development and broad systems of education. The LPC adds an expertise in teaching and learning to the conversation; helping to shape the design and activities of the center."

Founded in 1908, NGA is a bipartisan public policy organization made up of the nation's governors. The $500,000 grants were made possible through funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Intel Foundation.

The Learning Policy Center is a University-wide center with the mission of advancing ideas that encompass both education policy and research on teaching and learning. The LPC utilizes the School of Education, the LRDC, the Institute for Learning, and other regional assets to connect high-quality learning research with education policy decision makers.