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$5 Million i3 Grant Awarded to Expand, Study PLTW

INDIANAPOLIS – Grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Investing in Innovation (i3) will be used to expand and study the effectiveness of Project Lead The Way (PLTW) programs in the Capital Region of California. Sacramento-based nonprofit NextEd (formally LEED - Linking Education and Economic Development) has been awarded more than $5 million to be used to validate the effectiveness of PLTW engineering curricula with regard to student progress in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

NextEd is a nonprofit employer-education partnership serving California’s Capital Region. One of the organization’s main goals is “advancing programs and policies that prepare students for success in the next economy.” NextEd supports the Capital Region PLTW network, which includes 20 high schools and 20 middle schools. The i3 grant award will allow for expansion of the network to encompass over 60 schools, serving 6,000 students.

“PLTW wishes to congratulate NextEd on a successful and much deserved i3 grant application. We are honored to have been included in their proposal,” said PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram. “NextEd’s support of PLTW and the partnership between our organizations is making a difference for students, teachers, schools, and economic development throughout California’s Capital Region.”

Grant dollars will be allocated to a consortium of 40 high schools in eight counties within the extended Capital Region to support the implementation of PLTW’s engineering program. Funding will provide computer hardware and software, maintenance and technical support, student technology supplies, and PLTW professional development for teachers. After implementation, 40 cohorts of students randomly assigned to a PLTW academy or program will be studied. The metrics obtained through the project will demonstrate success rates of high need/nontraditional students in STEM course work, as well as their potential success in college and careers in STEM fields.

“Developing a pipeline of young people prepared for success in key careers like engineering is a top priority for business and education leaders in the Capital Region and across the US,” stated NextEd CEO Dave Butler. “By validating the effectiveness of the Project Lead The Way curriculum, we can expand it by school districts across the nation, fulfilling the core objectives of the i3 program – taking effective practices to scale to improve public education and enhance our nation’s economic competitiveness.”

NextEd’s i3 grant proposal was one of the top eight awarded in the i3 Validation Competition out of 727 applicants throughout the nation. Notified in early November that they were a top 20 finalist, NextEd was required to secure a 10 percent private sector match. Matching funds far exceeded the requirement, including cash and in-kind contributions from Intel, AT&T, Sutter Health, GenCorp, SMUD, CDW-G, PLTW, and research evaluator John Gargani.

Intel Corp. has been an unwavering supporter of PLTW in the Capital Region, serving as the leading corporate partner in establishing PLTW in the area in 2007. Since 2007, Intel has invested nearly $500,000 in the regional network, supporting professional development for teachers, technology purchases, and staff support.

“Programs like Project Lead The Way, which provide hands-on student learning in addition to critical professional development for our educators, are examples of what we need to develop the highly skilled STEM workforce that we need in the US to remain competitive in today’s world economy,” said Leroy Tripette, external affairs manager of Intel. “Intel is honored to have been engaged with NextEd on the ground floor of this venture and is excited to know that we will be able to reach even more students in the region and provide them with a distinct competitive advantage as they move forward in their education.”

NextEd’s grant application also received support from a wide range of California political, business, education, and civic leaders. Supporters included U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and U.S. Representatives Dan Lungren, Doris Matsui, Tom McClintock, and Mike Thompson.