Science Foundation Arizona Issues Statewide RFP to Fund Helios STEM School Pilot Sites

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Grants of up to $500,000 Available to Schools and Districts Statewide to Implement STEM Education Curricula in Classrooms that will Formulate Successful Models for the Future

“Through our partnership with SFAz, we’re working to increase curriculum rigor and relevance around STEM education, laying the groundwork for students to succeed in college and career,” said Helios Education Foundation President and CEO.

Through a strategic partnership between Helios Education Foundation and Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz), today a competitive request for proposals (RFP) is being issued to fund Helios STEM School Pilot sites in Arizona. The RFP will make grants of up to $500,000 available to schools and districts to implement STEM education curricula in classrooms.

The Helios STEM School Pilot initiative is part of SFAz’s newly launched Arizona STEM Network and is designed to improve student outcomes and success rates, increase student readiness for advanced math and science courses, and better prepare students for college and career success.

Participation in the Helios STEM School Pilot will be determined by a competitive RFP process for all public and not-for-profit public charter schools and districts across the state to build interdisciplinary, integrated, rigorous and relevant STEM education opportunities for students regardless of their geographic location, academic ability and socioeconomic status.

The RFP application is available online at http://www.sfaz.org and requires applicants to submit a letter of intent by October 5, 2012, and provide their final proposals by November 28, 2012. Eligible proposals will be reviewed by an external review panel. Finalists will also be evaluated through site visits to determine the overall quality of the proposals, the leadership and strength of the design team and the potential impact on students, schools and the broader community. Winning applicants will be notified on or before March 1, 2013. Funds will be awarded over a three-year period and will include support from full-time STEM technical advisors.

“Science Foundation Arizona is committed to making our schools internationally competitive by providing the tools and resources essential for success. Helios has provided us a great opportunity to build something that is sustainable, measurable and can positively impact communities across our state,” said William Harris, CEO and president of SFAz.

In submitted applications, schools and districts must communicate a shared vision and commitment to STEM education, utilize the newly created STEM Immersion Matrix tool available for all Arizona schools at http://www.sfaz.org/stemimmersion to guide their implementation plan, and clearly articulate their goals and strategies for integrating STEM education into their schools and classrooms. Applicants will also need to demonstrate community impact and sustainability, and must provide a minimum matching contribution of 15 percent in-kind or in cash.

Through whole-school implementation and the integration of STEM education, schools will be working to implement quality STEM programs aligned with Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, validate replicable models of STEM teaching and learning as well as improve data-driven decision making and measurements of progress.

Professional development opportunities for teachers will be available through the process, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to make learning more relevant to students. In addition, school evaluations will focus on how STEM teaching and learning practices may help decrease failure rates in math and science and increase student engagement in STEM activities outside of the classroom.

The RFP is part of Helios Education Foundation’s $4 million investment in SFAz to help build the Arizona STEM Network and identify and encourage effective STEM practices that will lead to sustained, systemic and transformational educational improvements in Arizona.

“Our hope is that these Helios STEM Pilot Schools will become provable models of effective best practices on how to immerse whole schools and districts in STEM education and provide students with the high-level analytical and critical thinking skills they need to succeed in today’s globalized economy,” said Helios Education Foundation President and CEO Paul Luna. “Through our partnership with Science Foundation Arizona, we’re working to increase curriculum rigor and relevance around STEM education, laying the groundwork for students to succeed in college and career.”

The partners define STEM education as an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to learning that provides project and problem-based and relevant experiences for students, equipping them with critical thinking, problem-solving, creative and collaboration skills.

About Helios Education Foundation
Helios Education Foundation is focused on creating a high expectations, college-going culture in Arizona and Florida by investing in initiatives that create opportunities for postsecondary education success. The Foundation focuses its investments across the education continuum in three key impact areas: Early Childhood Education, the Transition Years (Grades 5-12) and Postsecondary Scholarships.

As an engaged foundation, embedded in communities across both states, the Foundation is contributing its leadership, expertise and financial resources to better prepare students to succeed academically and to compete in a globally-competitive economy. Since 2006, Helios has invested over $115 million in education-related programs and initiatives in Arizona and Florida. For more information about the Foundation, visit http://www.helios.org.

About Science Foundation Arizona
Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization initiated in 2006 by the Greater Phoenix Leadership Inc., Southern Arizona Leadership Council and the Flagstaff Forty in conjunction with the executive and legislative branches of state government. SFAz serves as a catalyst for high-wage, knowledge-based jobs and economic diversity through administration and strict oversight of research, development and education grants to public education and other non-profit research performing institutions. For more information, visit http://www.sfaz.org.

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