During my travels across New Jersey, I became aware that dozens of STEM initiatives – really wonderful, innovative ideas – are already underway. But as is too often the case in our State, I found that the initiatives were occurring in isolation, with limited awareness and interaction among those engaged in the work.
There had to be some way to bring them together. That is why I created the STEM Pathways Network (SPN) in 2015. Dozens of the State’s leaders in academia, industry and philanthropy are now working to enhance collaboration and build bridges among State agencies, foundations, K-12 school districts, higher education and businesses.
By organizing our efforts and enhancing collaborations, something new and powerful can emerge. We can truly build a cohesive, innovation ecosystem that will help students find meaningful careers, supply industry with highly-skilled workers and meet the economic needs of the State.
If you examine the partnerships formed in our first four ecosystems, you will see hospitals, education associations, museums, school districts, and afterschool programs all working together toward one common goal: to change and improve the delivery of STEM education for our children, to prepare them for the opportunities of the future.
We need to do more to encourage our young students – especially our young women and underserved minorities – to get involved in STEM education as part a statewide vision of a coherent, coordinated and creative approach that will enhance STEM education, workforce alignment and economic growth. We seek to spark and sustain the imagination of students about STEM’s many possibilities at a time when they are deciding on their life’s direction.
The ecosystems that we are announcing on September 29, 2016 are just the beginning. We are planting the seeds, and with the help of the Overdeck Foundation, those seeds will grow and mature into something truly remarkable and transformative for our children. It will be hard work, but I have faith and confidence that our STEM partners will find strength, and innovation, through collaboration. I expect to be amazed.