Arkansas STEM Coalition History
The Arkansas Math and Science Coalition was established in 1987 as a result of a $10,000 grant from the National Alliance of State Science and Math Coalitions. It was formed to serve STEM-focused education from PreK – university levels.
In 1993, a $10M grant was awarded to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, from the National Science Foundation, with funding to be used to benefit the efforts of the Arkansas Math and Science Coalition. The loosely structured organization was a collaborative network and the effort was led through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and centered around furthering STEM subjects through providing quality professional development opportunities to educators and administrators.
Five STEM Centers were established at Universities and Education Cooperatives throughout Arkansas:
- Arkansas State University (Jonesboro)
- Henderson State University (Arkadelphia)
- University of Arkansas (Pine Bluff)
- University of Central Arkansas (Conway)
- Ozarks Unlimited Resource Educational Service Cooperative Harrison – later replaced with University of Arkansas (Fayetteville)
In ten years, by 2003, efforts were so successful that demand was increasing for additional STEM-focused professional development. More STEM Centers were added:
- Arkansas State University (Forrest City)
- Arkansas Tech University (Russellville)
- Harding University (Searcy)
- Southern Arkansas University (Magnolia)
- University of Arkansas (Fort Smith, Monticello, Little Rock)
Through joint funding between NSF and the US Department of Education, each of the centers expanded staff and hired one director, one mathematics specialist, and one science specialist. Each STEM Center served as the hub for professional development for STEM-focused K-12 education and higher education.
The work of the STEM Centers had a profound effect on the quality of professional development and continuing education for STEM educators. As the success of the STEM Centers grew, local government, business, and community leaders became more interested and involved. STEM-focused graduates are a constant resource of talent and workforce development. There was a need for the effort to be uniformly coordinated and grow to ensure Arkansas students have the STEM-focused opportunities and Arkansas businesses can draw from the abundant talent of Arkansas graduates to keep the economy growing.
Today, the Arkansas STEM Coalition includes 12 STEM Centers as well as business, government, and community representation. In 2010, the IRS granted the Arkansas STEM Coalition nonprofit status. Business, education, government, and community leaders throughout the state work in support of STEM-focused education and to expand the Arkansas economy through higher-paying STEM-focused jobs.
For ten years, the Arkansas STEM Coalition has been serving Arkansas businesses, educators, government, and community leaders. Today, we offer six signature STEM programs designed to engage Arkansas students in STEM-focused career pathways. We are a proud partner of the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, an international community of 89-STEM ecosystems. We support Million Women Mentors, and we are a proud partner of the Arkansas State License Plate Program. Proceeds from this program purchase and support educational science equipment for students and classroom teachers, grades 3 – 6.