The Foundation

Since its establishment in 2008, the Washington State STEM Education Foundation has worked toward fostering a 100% home-grown STEM workforce. This is part of the vision of becoming a national model for passionate support for STEM education.

We support a view that STEM literacy is a foundational skill that matters for all careers. STEM builds critical thinking abilities, creativity and collaboration skills. Gaining STEM proficiency provides the basis for these skills and builds the flexibility to adapt quickly to frequent changes in the labor market.

The Foundation’s first project was to support the funding and launch of Delta High. Long before most communities were placing emphasis on STEM education, Tri-Cities leaders were hard at work designing our region’s award-winning STEM school, Delta High, which opened in 2009.

Delta High put the Mid-Columbia on the STEM map and led the way for numerous STEM elementary schools that followed. A new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) middle school is scheduled to open in the fall. The outstanding STEM offerings at Columbia Basin College and Washington State University-Tri-Cities are the capstones of our local STEM education portfolio.

In 2014, the Foundation expanded its impact by forming the Mid-Columbia STEM Network, one of the now 10 STEM Networks across the state led by Washington STEM, a Seattle-based non-profit. Working in partnership with leaders from business, education, government and community-based organizations and volunteers across the state, we deliver STEM resources and opportunities to the Mid-Columbia through three key strategies.

Strategy #1:Build a bridge to connect STEM resources to students, teachers and our community

We supported legislation to fund a $3 million STEM facilities remodel at River View High in the Finley School District. We also spearheaded a 300% increase in local applications for STEM scholarships, resulting in more than $3 million in aid to local students through the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship. In addition, nearly $100,000 in grant money has been awarded to support computer science, early math and classroom teachers who are creating innovative STEM programing.

Strategy #2 Expand career-connected learning experiences

The Foundation works with business partners to promote internships and STEM volunteerism to prepare students for the working world. We also developed a STEM volunteer program called STEM Like ME!, which was recently honored with a National Governors Association Policy Academy grant as one of 22 STEM learning labs across our state.

Strategy #3 Advance the Mid-Columbia as national leader in STEM literacy

The Foundation supports a variety of awareness events, including our STEM Celebration Dinner, Women in STEM Town Hall, OSPI Candidate Forum, Health and Safety EXPO and Legislative “Fly-In” to Olympia. In addition, we drive STEM support through English and Spanish ads, articles, media spots and presentations.

Talented young STEM professionals have cited our region’s proactive approach to STEM education as a key factor in their choice to relocate to the Tri-Cities. International business leaders have toured the region, Delta High and our higher-ed institutions, and made the same claim. Our region’s dedication to ensuring all young people experience STEM’s power and possibilities is paying off. And we are just getting started!