Press release: Oakland, CA, August 26, 2013—
Maker Ed Announces New STEM-Related Partnership with AmeriCorps VISTA
Collaboration echoes goals of President Obama’s effort to increase national service opportunities
The Maker Education Initiative (Maker Ed) today announced a partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to place 22 AmeriCorps VISTA members in a program to support the initiative in 10 underserved areas across the nation.
Maker AmeriCorps VISTA members will be placed in 10 underserved urban and rural areas that are part of the National Maker Network. The members will work with community and school programs providing more opportunities for young people to learn through maker programs that engage them in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the arts, and learning as a whole.
“Our goal is to help young people engage as makers, and it requires talented, enthusiastic leaders to inspire and organize resources in our communities to make that happen. The Maker VISTA members and leaders will certainly accelerate these efforts in California and beyond,” said Dale Dougherty, Chair of Maker Education Initiative and President/CEO of Maker Media, Inc.
The Maker AmeriCorps VISTA builds on two recent presidential actions. In April, President Obama announced STEM AmeriCorps, which will have AmeriCorps members utilize professionals in STEM-related fields to inspire youth to pursue studies in STEM education. In addition, President Obama in July established the Task Force on Expanding National Service that encourages collaboration between the public and private sectors, including nonprofits, to find ways that national service members can help address the country’s challenges. “We believe that helping more youth identify as makers can be a catalyst for individual and community prosperity,” shared Paloma Garcia-Lopez, Maker Ed’s Executive Director.
“STEM education lays the foundation for a better future for our children,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. “Through the President’s task force, we look forward to investing in organizations that approach learning in this innovative way. The collaboration with the Maker Education Initiative will allow AmeriCorps VISTA members to expand the reach of these programs, fueling the desire of young people to experiment and learn.”
The Maker AmeriCorps VISTAs will help expand Maker Ed by developing community-school partnerships and other collaborations, recruiting volunteers, and assisting with fundraising efforts. The first Maker AmeriCorps VISTA team will be placed in five hubs across California in November, followed by a second team that will begin work at hubs in five other states in April of 2014.
The five sites for the November Maker VISTA team in California are: Da Vinci Center, Stockton; Lighthouse Community Charter High School, Oakland; SAM Academy, Inc., Fresno and Sanger; The Exploratory: Maker Guilds in Los Angeles; and THINK Together, Santa Ana.
“The Da Vinci Center is a sanctuary where learners have the freedom to express their creativity in endless ways,” said Bill Engelhardt, director of The Da Vinci Center. “They are encouraged to take risks, learn from failure, and rely on inquiry and hands-on problem solving to develop solutions to real world challenges. The Center is thrilled to become a Maker VISTA hub and looks forward to the potential impact maker-oriented experiences will have on learners and educators.”
“The MakerEd VISTA program provides a unique opportunity for California’s expanded learning programs and is a major benefit to our California Makes Expanded Learning Partnership,” said Michael Funk, director of the After School Division California Department of Education. “VISTAs will help build an on-going system for developing local STEM resources and support for afterschool and summer programs in our most economically disadvantaged communities. MakerEd’s commitment to engage students, parents, and communities in ‘Making’ creates opportunities to support students on their pathway to becoming college and career ready.”
“This partnership is building on the VISTA’s long-standing tradition as a leader in bringing economic opportunity to underserved areas,” said Mary Strasser, Director of AmeriCorps VISTA. “We look forward to working with Maker to inspire young people through creative learning opportunities that will position them to achieve success in the future.”
About AmeriCorps VISTA
AmeriCorps VISTA is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. With passion, commitment, and hard work, AmeriCorps VISTA members create or expand programs designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.
About Maker Education Initiative
The purpose of the Maker Education Initiative (Maker Ed) is to bring make-oriented activities to scale in multiple learning environments and communities across the nation. Maker Ed plays a national leadership role in developing a maker network of institutions, youth serving organizations, statewide afterschool networks, corporations, foundations, and makers seeking to accelerate and deepen the Maker Movement. Maker Ed is a nonprofit project of the Tides Center, which acts as its fiscal sponsor. For more information, visit MakerEd.org.
Press Release pdf here.