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New Online Map Increases Understanding of Country’s STEM Education Delivery and Outcomes

BEVERLY HILLS - April 30, 2019 – The National Math and Science Initiative today unveiled the first version of its STEM Opportunity Index (SOI), a multi-layered online map that illustrates strengths and potential gaps in public STEM education around the country. The Index is based on the nonprofit’s STEM Framework for Success, a collection of 114 indicators that are measured by publicly available data.
“In 2017, we committed to work with other education organizations to eradicate STEM Deserts,” said NMSI CEO Dr. Bernard Harris, a former astronaut. “To do that, we needed to align with other organizations, pinpoint opportunity gaps in STEM education and develop data-based tools to inform our next steps.”
The Index is built on work led by NMSI, SRI International and 100Kin10, with financial support from Genentech Inc. Harris unveiled it at the 2019 Milken Institute Global Conference.

“No one organization can ensure all students have the access and resources needed to thrive in STEM education,” Harris said. “Other groups we worked with included Barings, the American Institute for Research and representatives of almost 50 education and research organizations. We now look forward to adding more features and seeing how businesses, lawmakers, parents and other nonprofits use the tools to improve public STEM education.”

Speaking at a workforce panel, Harris noted that the Index will help businesses understand the states and communities best positioned to support their employees’ families. He also said corporate and private foundations could use the tools to help decide where to invest philanthropic resources and measure their impacts.

“Genentech is committed to empowering communities with access to high-quality STEM education resources,” said Eileen Yang, the company’s senior manager for corporate citizenship. Genentech supported data collection for the STEM Framework. “Tools like the Framework are critical to identifying where educational investments can add greatest leverage, so we can reach more students and increase their access to STEM education and career pathways.”

The first version of the Index focuses on state-level data. Before the end of the year, NMSI expects to unveil updates focused on school system and school-level data.

“For all kids to have the excellent STEM knowledge and skills they need to take on the opportunities of this century, players from all across the STEM education landscape must work together toward that common vision, which means we need to know what’s working well and where we’re making progress,” said Talia Milgrom-Elcott, co-founder and executive director of 100kIn10. “The STEM Opportunity Index will fuel this knowledge and collaboration. We’re excited by the potential of this platform and honored to have contributed to its development.”

NMSI supports schools, teachers and students across the country with leadership training, teacher professional development, classroom and lab supplies, AP® exam subsidies and expert-led study resources for students. The Dallas-based nonprofit supports a variety of education disciplines and believes STEM education is the strongest lever to achieving opportunity.

“The STEM workforce continues to outpace other sectors and many students today are likely to work in jobs that don’t yet exist,” Harris said. “It’s about creating a workforce of knowledgeable individuals who will drive economic prosperity, compete globally and actively participate in the growth of this nation.”
Harris, a physician, was the first African-American to complete a spacewalk. He has spent three decades increasing access to STEM education, particularly for students from socio-economic groups under-represented in medicine and other STEM fields.

Harris was a founding NMSI board member and became CEO in 2017. He’s also the founder of the Harris Institute and Foundation, a managing partner for a medical technology investment firm, a board member for a number public and private companies and organizations and the author of “Dream Walker: A Journey of Achievement and Inspiration.”

NMSI will share the Index and Framework with other organizations and will continue to make adjustments based on research-based data, to ensure that it remains relevant and impactful.

Founded in 2007, NMSI's mission is to advance STEM education to ensure all students, especially those furthest from opportunity, thrive and reach their highest potential as problem solvers and lifelong learners. The nonprofit organization helps develop new STEM teachers through its Teacher Pathways programs, and supports schools, teachers and AP students through Laying the Foundation, the College Readiness Program and other research-based programs. Learn more at nms.org.

Media Contact 
Juan Elizondo, NMSI, jelizondo@nms.org, 214-346-1249