The EAST Initiative, an educational nonprofit based in Little Rock and serving schools throughout Arkansas and four other states, was one of four organizations recognized by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) for doing exceptional work to advance STEM education in its 6th annual STEM Innovation Awards.
The awards are sponsored by leading Silicon Valley companies and honor top STEM education programs that inspire students and teachers and help students prepare for college-level learning and technology careers. Each awardee will receive a $5,000 grant to reinvest in their programs.
Other 2016 STEM Innovation Award winners were: Girls Scouts of Northern California, MK Level Playing Field Institute, and Abraham Lincoln High School Computer Science Program.
"These organizations represent the best and brightest organizations that bring learning and inspiration to students to explore STEM fields as future career choices,” said SVEF CEO Muhammed Chaudhry. "They are bringing this work to the forefront to address the critical need to alleviate our dire STEM workforce shortage.”
Last year’s honorees included Project Lead The Way, Inc., Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), Girlstart and e-NABLE Educators’ Exchange.
As part of the selection process, potential award recipients are supported by recommendations from agencies familiar with their work. The EAST Initiative was supported by the office of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service Center on Community Philanthropy.
“We are extremely grateful to have our work and the work of EAST students recognized as innovative by the innovators of Silicon Valley, a culture synonymous with the very concept,” said Matt Dozier, CEO and president of the EAST Initiative. “More than 200,000 EAST students have pushed the boundaries of technology over the last 20 years, with most students today having more technological horsepower at their fingertips — literally, in their cell phones — than the first EAST students had in their whole classroom. Yet they continue to find new ways to improve, to improvise and to impress as they strengthen their communities.
“We are proud that our model of STEM education, which focuses on using sophisticated technology in pursuit of service to the community, has proven itself as a significant learning opportunity, and that organizations like SVEF are helping us tell our story and celebrate the many ways in which EAST students are leading and learning,” Dozier continued.
The 2016 STEM Innovation Award winners will be honored at SVEF’s 12th annual Pioneers & Purpose Celebration for Education to be held on Wednesday, Nov. 9th at the San Jose Convention Center. The event will also honor technology industry leader Diane Greene as SVEF’s 2016 Pioneer Business Leader and John Haynes, of John F. Kennedy Middle School in Redwood City, as Elevate Teacher of the Year.
The STEM Innovation Award winners were selected by a group of educated thought leaders who have demonstrated outstanding work in the STEM community and included Tom Baker SVEF board member; Diane Solinger from Google, Anvita Sahai from EY, Kira Burke from Google, Mujeeb Ijaz from Apple, Eric Heitmann from CBRE and Eric Hoarau from Flex.
Silicon Valley Education Foundation is a nonprofit resource and advocate for students and educators. It drives scholastic achievement in the critical areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by combining resources and partnerships to provide innovative academic programs. The SVEF is a catalyst for policy solutions in public education whose mission is to make Silicon Valley the leader in academically prepared students.
The EAST Initiative is an educational nonprofit organization that provides all learners the opportunity to have relevant, individualized, life-changing educational experiences. EAST supplies students with the latest in sophisticated hardware and software tools and challenges them to apply this cutting-edge technology in identifying and solving problems and improving the communities in which they live. In addition to establishing these unique classrooms and offering technical support, the EAST Initiative also offers powerful technology training both to students and educators, including providing professional development focusing on integrating technology into any classroom, regardless of subject.