ALLENTOWN, Pa. September 22, 2017— The Da Vinci Science Center is excited to announce the award of a national grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to enhance STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – education programs and learning for women and girls in these fields in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding communities in Eastern PA. Through a partnership with the Girl Scouts of Eastern PA, Cedar Crest College, Lehigh University, and Lafayette College, the Da Vinci Science Center will create a STEM Learning Ecosystem to attract, support, and advance females in STEM professions to help meet the growing demand for a STEM workforce.
“The demand for STEM jobs in the U.S. is growing almost twice as fast as employment in other occupations. In Northeastern Pennsylvania, the demand mirrors that of the nation,” said Senator Bob Casey. “It is important for organizations like the Da Vinci Science Center to work to develop programs now that will attract and retain girls and women in STEM to help fill those gaps in the workforce.”
The IMLS funding will be used to expand the Da Vinci Science Center’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Initiative, specifically supporting five key activities: assessing the needs of girls in grades K-12, undergraduate women, and women in STEM employment; identifying marketing and recruitment messages that encourage STEM-interested girls and women to participate in STEM programs; piloting new STEM programs for girls and women; staff training for these new programs for educators at Da Vinci and in organizations such as the Girl Scouts; and expansion of the WISE network to support more women entering or engaged in STEM professions. Funding from IMLS will significantly enhance the number and type of programs offered to support and engage girls and women, the degree to which those programs are connected into clear pathways for advancement, and the capacity to sustain the STEM Learning Ecosystem in the future.
“STEM programming is one of the four program pillars that form the foundation of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience,” said Kim Fraites-Dow, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania. “We are thrilled about this partnership with the Da Vinci Science Center, supported by funding from IMLS, to expand STEM experience that put each of our Girl Scouts on a path to a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success.”
The WISE Initiative at the Da Vinci Science Center is overseen by a WISE Executive Council, made up of female STEM professionals representing area corporations, colleges and universities, and community organizations. A variety of programs are currently offered for middle and high school girls and practicing professionals. The signature event is the Center’s annual WISE Forum featuring distinguished female STEM leaders from across the nation and attracting more than 400 high school girls, college students and faculty, and female STEM professionals.
“Programs enlisting women to mentor girls are common. What makes this project a unique opportunity and a ‘WISE’ investment is our plan to expand the STEM learning ecosystem model to include women in STEM careers as a network and support system for each other,” said Erin Armstrong, Associate Director of Sterilization for B. Braun Medical, and co-chair of the WISE Executive Council at Da Vinci.
For the 2017-18 funding year, IMLS received 558 applications requesting $104,538,159. Of these, 132 projects, including the WISE Initiative at the Da Vinci Science Center, were selected to receive funding totaling $19,189,929. The award to the Da Vinci Science Center is for $123,140.
“As centers of learning and catalysts of community change, libraries and museums connect people with programs, services, collections, information, and new ideas in the arts, sciences, and humanities. They serve as vital spaces where people can connect with each other,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “IMLS is proud to support their work through our grant making as they inform and inspire all in their communities.”
Da Vinci Science Center: Open for ExSCIting Possibilities
The Da Vinci Science Center is a national award-winning science center that has brought science to life and lives to science since 1992. Da Vinci Science Center experiences make science fun and approachable, helping to connect people of all ages and backgrounds with the wonders of science. An independent nonprofit organization with IRS 501(c)(3) status, the Da Vinci Science Center engages more than 140,000 participants annually with its exhibits, programs, events, and partnerships.
Additional information and opportunities to support the Da Vinci Science Center are available on the web at davincisciencecenter.org.
Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.