Happy New Year from The STEM Foundation!

New Year's resolutions. Whether you make them or not, you probably at least spend a few moments reflecting on what you might want to accomplish in the months ahead. At the Foundation, we will build our efforts on a continued commitment to inspiring and preparing students for the pursuit of rewarding careers, especially in STEM fields.

Research has shown that career-connected learningcombining classroom activities with meaningful work experienceis a productive way to help students achieve educational and workplace success. The approach relies on collaboration between educators and employers to create eye-opening experiences, both in and out of the classroom. These can include classroom visits from working professionals, workplace visits, apprenticeships, internships or job shadow opportunities.

To that end, as you read this newsletter with its recent highlights and news of upcoming initiatives, perhaps you will be inspired to make your own resolution and join us in expanding the number and diversity of career-connected learning opportunities for students in our region. If so, contact the Foundation office, and let us help you explore potential connections.

Thank you for your continued interest in and support of The STEM Foundation.

Matt Hammer, Board President
Deb Bowen, Executive Director
Regional Team Earns State Grant
The Washington Student Achievement Council has awarded a $125,000 Tier 1 Innovation Grant to the Mid-Columbia region to create a rural two-generation approach to engage students and families to increase credential attainment and connections to the local workforce.

The regional team includes The STEM Foundation, Kiona-Benton City School District, Steward Leaders, Columbia Basin College, Washington State University Tri-Cities, TRIDEC, Educational Service District 123, Tri-Tech Skills Center, TC Futures, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Benton-Franklin Workforce Development Council, The Rural Alliance, and others. It will work with students and families in Benton City to increase direct enrollment in post-secondary programs; engage adultsespecially younger parents and family membersand out-of-school youth returning to education; and support completion rates for Kiona-Benton's credential-seeking individuals.

The grant is about innovation and how to bring a rapid-test-and-adjust lab approach to new ideas that will:
  • engage younger students in career-connected learning and accelerate the Career Connect Washington model
  • connect with parents, family members, and out-of-school youth who have not completed credentials of their own
  • drive outreach and opportunities that will build a bridge to high-demand careers available in the region

Over 80 applications were submitted from across Washington. The Mid-Columbia's Kiona-Benton (Ki-Be) Multi-Gen Accelerator grant proposal is just one of only two Tier 1 awards in the state.
What Is Career-Connected Learning and
Why Do We Need It?
Today's jobs require some kind of training or education beyond high school. However, too many students are leaving high school without ever getting a chance to learn about, or prepare for, real jobs. Even throughout their 20's, too many young people don't know what jobs are "out there" or how to prepare for them. This is true whether they go straight to a four-year college or not. At the same time, many Washington employers are hiring from outside our state because they can't find local residents with the right training or qualifications.

Career Connect Washington (CCW) is a coalition of industry, labor, education, government, and community leaders who create and expand access to work-based education programs for young people to earn money and academic credit while they explore, prepare for, and launch into careers.
Early exposure to careers and career options
(career fairs, job shadows, STEM Like ME!SM classroom programs)
Career-specific instructions at a worksite or in a classroom for academic credit
(pre-apprenticeships, CTE courses, internships)
Worked-based programs with aligned classroom learning (registered apprenticeships and career-launch endorsed programs in high school and college)
Southeastern Washington Career-Connected Learning
and Data Resources

In southeastern Washington, we benefit from a strong economy and growth, yet we are stifled by the constrained talent pipeline. As the Career Connect Washington regional lead, The STEM Foundation works to convene cross-sector partners to drive innovation and opportunity through career-connected learning for all students, especially those furthest from opportunity.

Among the many challenges in implementing a comprehensive career-connected learning system is the rapid and accelerating pace of technical change. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our region, where technology drives much of our economy. According to renowned research firm, Bain & Company, almost one-third of the world's jobs will be transformed by technology, and "the key to making these opportunities available to students, who too often find access beyond their reach, is career-connected learning."

We have excellent career-connected learning building blocks here, yet the need is vast. We must explore ways to link and scale these opportunities so that we can "home-grow" qualified candidates to fill all the emerging jobs available locally. Bain's suggestions for accelerating progress at scale come down to building systems that help all involved navigate through what are today, fragmented systems, and to see sustainable and blended funding streams to expand opportunities.

To learn more about Bain's finding or to access other career-connected learning resources, including upcoming CCW funding, please visit the below links:
Talent makers, not talent takers: How employers and educators must reimagine their investment in talent: Bain & Company's most recent executive report on career-connected learning.

Taking Flight: How to maximize the potential of career-connected learning: Bain & Company's full report on career-connected learning.

Program Builders Funding Available: Career Connect Washington has awarded more than $12 million statewide to K-12, higher-ed, and community-based organizations to design career-connected learning programs. Organizations, known as Program Builders, may apply for funding to support the development of Career Explore, Prep, and Launch programs in our region. Email Jim Kindle, Career Connected Learning Coordinator, ESD 123, to register for the next information session.

CCW Career Directory: A statewide tool that connects young people to Career Explore, Career Prep, and Career Launch programs available in their communities. Also provides direct links to community-based support services to help remove barriers to participation in career-connected learning.

Building Trades Apprenticeship: A resource for students, parents, educators and others interested in learning about career-connected learning and apprenticeships in the building trades.

CareerExploreNW: A community tool designed to guide people toward a job or career as well as help the region's employers create a talent pipeline. Watch interviews with professionals who are currently working in an industry or take a virtual tour inside local companies.

Washington Workforce Portal: A free searchable database of available internships and work-based learning opportunities in Washington. Students can create a free account, plug in their resume, and immediately start searching and applying! Employers can post internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing and mentorship opportunities. To learn more, contact Brooke Myrland, Workforce & Education Manager, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Washington Career Bridge: The popular, public-facing career and education portal created and managed by the Workforce Board also features new videos on hundreds of careers courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor. Take the career quiz. Then catch a video and see if a new career might be right for you!

STEM by the Numbers: Washington STEM's report series offers both statewide and region-by-region analyses of the need for STEM talent and opportunities. The data helps create a through-line from classroom to career for Washington students.
To learn more about Career Connect Washington, Program Builders, and Sector Intermediaries,
click here.
To receive Career Connect Washington email news announcements and updates, click here.
STEM Like ME!SM programs returned to local classrooms in October, and more than 600 middle and high school students have been inspired with engaging activities and career-connected learning experiences led by STEM Like ME!SM mentors.

These types of events are only possible with strong industry support and the investment of time and commitment to our future workforce. Thank you to Benton Public Utilities District, Hanford Mission Integration Solutions (HMIS), Central Plateau Cleanup Company (CPCCo), Washington River Protection Solutions, and the US Department of Energy for your partnership and continued support of STEM Like ME!SM

The demand for STEM Like ME!SM programs continues to build, and volunteers are needed! If you think STEM Like ME!SM might be a good fit for you, your company, or someone you know, please contact Heather Tibbett, Senior Program Manager, The STEM Foundation.
Check out STEM Like ME!SM in the classroom!
The STEM Like ME!SM Empower "Cleanup to Clean Energy" Student Summit, the newest addition to the STEM Like ME!SM suite of programs, was held October 21 at Columbia Basin College. The pilot summit sought to ensure 50 local high school students, furthest from opportunity and who may still be weighing post-graduate education options, would be empowered with skills and experiences to identify a rewarding career path. Students were introduced to the potential of pursuing credentials at CBC, and connections with industry leaders rounded out the experience.

Students from Kiona-Benton City High School and Pasco's New Horizons High School rotated in small groups through a series of engaging and interactive experiences led by college students and instructors. Departments represented during these experiences included agriculture, technology/cyber security, manufacturing technology, and nuclear. Each small student group had two guides for the day: a CBC student ambassador and a STEM Like ME!SM mentor trained to support small group discussions and serve as a role model.

Students were welcomed with opening remarks from a former Kiona-Benton student, now in a successful STEM career, who shared his journey of overcoming obstacles during high school and higher education and encouraged each student to take advantage of the summit experience and any resources available to them. Lunch included a panel discussion featuring four CBC students, from diverse backgrounds, who shared their personal stories of going from high school to higher education. The panel also participated in a Q&A session with the students.

Prior to the on-campus event, students participated in the STEM Like ME!SM Empower program in their classrooms. This program ties closely with the students' state-required High School and Beyond plan and includes a student journal that provides an opportunity to tie personal traits and interests to a potential career, and leads them through a career mapping process.
Dallas Croft and Joe Cruz, Atkins and STEM Like ME!SM volunteers, with their student group
Cameron Salony, US Department of Energy and STEM Like ME!SM volunteer, with his student group
Having fun with agricultural DNA extraction in a CBC classroom
Regional Award Winners Recognized for STEM Education Work
2022 Energy JEDI Leadership Award

Evangelina Galvan Shreeve, director for STEM Education at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), received the 2022 Energy Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) award on November 1 at the Energy Leadership Summit in Seattle, Washington. 

The JEDI award recognizes an individual that has done outstanding work to make the energy sector more equitable, supportive of climate justice and diversity, and fosters an inclusive ecosystem.

The award recognizes STEM education as a valuable contributor toward renewable energy and the development of future scientific experts in the field. In her work with PNNL, Galvan Shreeve guides the development of educational programs and partnerships, creating strategic pathways for historically underrepresented groups in technical fields to develop a more diverse future workforce. Her work to develop strategic partnerships and innovative program models with minority-serving institutions is particularly influential in opening opportunities to students. Congratulations, Evangelina!
2022 Sam Volpentest Entrepreneurial
Leadership Award

The STEM Foundation's Executive Director, Deb Bowen, was named this year’s Sammy award winner! She accepted the award on behalf of all of the practitioners and volunteers who get up every morning excited to inspire the next generation. Deb thanked the selection committee for shining a light on the important work of preparing our region’s future workforce and urged everyone to please consider hosting an intern, mentoring in a classroom, or connecting with any number of outstanding nonprofits. Congratulations, Deb!
In case you missed it:
The 2022 SEWA Future Workforce Summit was a great success! Representatives from business, labor, education, and government met virtually in November to discuss how to pave the way from the classroom to high-demand careers in our region!

Co-sponsored by The STEM Foundation and Educational Service District 123, the annual Southeastern Washington Future Workforce Summit featured presenters who helped explore opportunities to collaborate and create new partnerships to close the talent gap and better prepare students for career success.

Fewer than half of the region’s students are estimated to be on track to earn the type of post-secondary credential – a four-year college degree, an apprenticeship, certification or two-year technical degree – forecasted to be required by 2030 for the large majority of the state’s family-wage careers. 

This year's Summit highlighted opportunities in environmental restoration and clean energy, advanced the Career Connect Washington initiative with an in-depth look into career-connected learning and the impact it is making locally and nationally, and how career exploration, preparation, and career launch experiences can expand pathways for young people in our region. The Summit concluded with a workshop that highlighted and outlined Career Connect Washington's Program Builders grant opportunities for K-12, higher education, and community-based organizations in the Mid-Columbia region.

A link to videos of the Summit sessions is provided below:
The STEM Foundation
Dana Munn, Newsletter Editor
P.O. Box 1617
Richland, WA 99352
Phone: 509.420.9316