This document will serve as a guide and a path forward as the Board changes its focus from the Challenger Learning Center of Vermont, Inc. to the STEM Challenge Initiative, Inc. (hereinafter SCI). The Program Plan is a living document that is intended to support the Board of SCI in its’ efforts to strengthen STEM education in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. The Program Plan is designed to guide the daily actions of the Board while recognizing the Board’s desire to be flexible in order to meet the needs of an ever changing society.
The organization now known as the SCI started as the Challenger Learning Center of Vermont, Inc. (CLC/VT) in 2010. Through time, thoughtful review and a professional feasibility study, the organization has changed focus from building a bricks and mortar facility to developing programs to allow it to provide affordable and meaningful STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) educational opportunities for the communities in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. The focus has changed, but the Board’s commitment to supporting STEM education remains the cornerstone of the organization. The Board has benefited from the fundraising efforts of CLC/VT and to demonstrate stewardship of those funds, a fund will be established to further the mission of SCI.
The organization consists of an all-volunteer board and committees whose purpose is to promote its’ mission. SCI is operated as a non-profit pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) and the office of the Corporation shall be located in Swanton, Vermont.
The mission of SCI is to create a “scientifically literate population that can thrive in a world increasingly driven by information and technology through collaboration with teachers, students, and organizations throughout Franklin and Grand Isle Counties.”
To improve STEM based education by funding projects and programs designed to advance the knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in order to:
- Develop student interest in further education and careers in STEM related fields
- Improve students’ overall level of understanding of STEM
- Advance students’ skills in teamwork, decision making, problem solving and communication
- Promote the value of STEM in students’ daily lives
- Improve our regional economic prosperity by preparing students for careers in STEM
- Support the education of STEM personnel
- Support individual participation in STEM courses
- Further STEM education that will meet regional business needs
These objectives detail the Board’s commitment to the community and acknowledge the crucial role of STEM education in preparing students for careers that will improve our regional economic prosperity. The Board challenges those in Franklin and Grand Isle counties and especially those in the educational and business communities to promote STEM education. The Board will develop and encourage partnerships with local businesses and educational institutions to expand learning opportunities and encourage locally-based job placements.
In order to further the organization’s mission, the board will promote three separate initiatives. These initiatives may change and grow over time, but the mission and goals will remain to further the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) educational opportunities within the communities that make up Franklin and Grand Isle Counties.
- Business Partnerships:
The Board recognizes that a well-trained work force is essential for the business community. The Board will develop a relationship with interested parties to further STEM education that will meet regional business needs. This could take the form of promoting advanced manufacturing skills, engineering training or advanced software training that could allow an individual entry into a particular field. The Board will evaluate potential relationships which foster STEM training and prepare adults and students for work in the business community.
- After School Programs:
The Board may fund programs that expand STEM education via after school or summer camp programs. This could be planned and directed by the Board. The Board may wish to hire individuals who could provide this training and make available the supplies and space necessary for the program.
- Grants and Scholarships:
Another goal of the Board is to encourage teachers, school administrators, students and educators to develop and or use existing educational programs to further STEM education for Franklin/Grand Isle County school children. To achieve this, the Board will encourage school administrators and teachers to request grants that will support STEM education. The Board may also partner with existing STEM programs, e.g. after school or summer school programs, and provide a partial or full scholarship to individual students seeking to enroll in these STEM activities.
The Board will develop criteria to evaluate grant proposals and provide funds to those organizations within our region whose proposals are judged to further STEM education or stimulate student interest in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The limited funds will be awarded to the proposals that provide the most educational impact and are not intended to support the entire STEM activity, but to supplement those programs that have support within their parent organization. The Board will also review and select existing STEM programs and partner with those which meet Board expectations to award scholarships to individual students.
The board may decide certain grants can be developed based upon a donor’s request and can bear the name of the donor. For example a $1,000 grant for a STEM project may be designated as originating from that donor.
To conduct the business of the organization, services must be provided and sustainability must be considered. The Board understands these administrative duties are essential to carry out the mission and provide long-term stability and growth of the organization. The following detail some of these duties the board recognizes must be accomplished to be successful.
- Providing Services
The Board will provide the organizational services by building relationships with community leaders, educators, businesses and others interested in furthering STEM education. The Board will routinely publish information on projects in local newspapers and through its website and will contact local schools and businesses to seek opportunities to improve STEM education and to seek funds to further the mission.
Examples of building relationships include:
- Discussions with local Science teachers
- Meetings with Principals and Superintendents
- Presentations to Rotary clubs, business organizations and individual business leaders
- Informational distributions through newspapers, website and local cable TV
- Meetings with STEM based clubs and organizations
To allow the organization to function and to perform normal business, a number of committees will need to be established. Possible committees in addition to the Executive Board may include finance, fund raising and application review committees. These committees will meet as needed and in accordance with the organization’s Bylaws.
The Board will insure sustainability through the establishment of a fund with existing funds that have been raised along with the planning and promotion of additional fundraising activities. A finance committee will manage the fund so that interest earned and new donations and fund-raising income will be used to further the goals of the organization and defray the expenses necessary to support its’ activities. Funds raised through activities supported by the Board may be used within an individual program or distributed to other programs of the organization.
The Board will also rely on fundraising activities to support its’ mission. A committee to coordinate fundraising efforts will be established. Fund raising should include, but not be limited to the following:
- Individual donors
- Company support
- Sustaining memberships
- Fund raising events:
- Golf Tournament
- Community fund raising
- Tuition for summer camps, after school program
- Grant application process
Funds provided by the Board are to support STEM education of students in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. Priority will be given to applicants representing public schools; however, applications from other public or private organizations (e.g. museums, libraries) will be considered. Special priority will be given to grants where students themselves are involved in writing the grant or driving the project.
Examples of appropriate use of grant funds include:
- Materials or equipment for STEM related educational initiatives
- Travel to STEM related events and conferences
- Funds to support STEM related speakers and assemblies
Range of awards: $250- $750 in a one-time disbursement.
Application components: Grants must include all of the following. No application will be considered unless each category is addressed:
- Name and title of person responsible for administering grant funds including contact information (phone, mailing address, email)
- Name and address of institution connected to project
- Description of proposed project
- Ages/grade level of students involved
- Number of students impacted by the project
- Indicator of administrative support. This may include:
- Letter of support from an administrator
- Financial support, either direct or in-kind, to support project
- Description of how proposed project aligns with other STEM related programs and projects at the school or institution
- Description of proposed project evaluation model. Upon project completion, the applicant will complete an outcomes based summary (one paragraph) that includes digital imagery. The funders will need photos of project participants and activities, along with signed releases, to allow the Board to use the information in press releases and other media/promotional activities
The Board will advertise and set deadlines for application submissions. All submissions will be sent to the secretary who will record the date of receipt of the application.