The National Afterschool Association (NAA) has been awarded funding from the Noyce Foundation to develop the first-ever afterschool STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) credential. The investment centerpiece -- a STEM-related micro-credential and digital badge series -- offered by NAA and developed with Click2SciencePD, will serve as a validated, industry-wide indicator that afterschool staff have the requisite competencies to facilitate STEM learning across a variety of settings.
"There is growing consensus that the long-term sustainability of various efforts to strengthen policy and funding for STEM afterschool hinges on the quality of programming delivered by frontline staff," said Ron Ottinger, Noyce Foundation Executive Director. "This investment will ensure that afterschool professionals have the knowledge and skills necessary to facilitate effective STEM learning."
One resource that can help improve upon program quality is Click2SciencePD. "Click2Science is a blended resource that trainers/coaches can use to help front-line staff better engage young people in STEM learning," according to Kathleen Lodl, project director for Click. "Click focuses on the 'skills' staff need to interest youth, regardless of what kind of curriculum they be using."
Three key states -- Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania -- are engaged in the project pilot that will allow 75 afterschool professionals to obtain STEM micro-credentials and digital badges in key science skills. The project will also generate market research to help inform future work and sustainability planning around micro-credentials and digital badges in other subject areas.
"We are grateful to the Noyce Foundation for providing this opportunity to work on a project that will have so many positive benefits for both afterschool professionals and the young people that will hold the STEM careers of tomorrow," said Gina Warner, President and CEO of the National Afterschool Association.