The History of the Indiana STEM Ecosystem & State Funding for STEM
Written by: Keep Indiana Learning
STEM support and initiatives across the state of Indiana have been a top priority over the last 15 years! Through early partnerships between Lilly, IDOE, & Purdue University’s Indiana Science Initiative (ISI), the I-STEM Resource Network was forged. These partnerships created the original Indiana STEM Action Coalition which initially worked toward an Indiana STEM Education plan. Over several years of ongoing support, new partners came on board to support the efforts, including the Indiana Afterschool Network, the Marion County STEM Coalition, Rolls-Royce Corporation, and others.
In 2017, after many attempts to secure state funding and legislative language to support STEM efforts in Indiana, an Indiana STEM Council was formed, and after 18 months of development, published the Indiana 6-year STEM Strategic Plan. During this time, the original Indiana STEM Action Coalition group, grew to over 450 members across Indiana and changed its name to the Indiana STEM Ecosystem. It continued to seek grant funding to support its mission of developing, supporting, and “standing up” regional STEM ecosystems to improve STEM literacy, ensure a strong workforce and global competitiveness for all Hoosiers, and support diversity, equity and inclusion in a thriving STEM workforce.
During 2020 the legislature supported the newly-developed Indiana STEM Strategic Plan by passing an additional total of $24,500,000 in state funding explicitly earmarked for STEM education. As previous funding streams for the Indiana STEM Ecosystem work dried up, a new partner emerged through CIESC and Keep Indiana Learning, and STEM Synergy was born!
Historic Projects & Hoosier STEM Wins
- Assisting in legislative language drafting and advocacy to State representatives regarding STEM funding and legislative language to support STEM education in both formal and informal settings.
- Indiana STEM Ecosystem membership mapping project was conducted in order to leverage our membership’s expertise and knowledge across Indiana.
- STEMx Challenge Grant Rural Project – focused on identifying and supporting the development of STEM Ecosystems within the identified top 24 Hoosier rural counties lacking access due to geographic location.
- One of only five states asked to participate in the national STEM mapping project led by the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES).
- Development of the Indiana STEM Ecosystem Needs Assessment Tool
- A user-friendly, Indiana specific tool designed for comprehensive analysis of formal and informal STEM programming & STEM Ecosystem development aligned to the vetted Indiana STEM processes and standards from the Indiana Department of Education STEM Certification Process and the Indiana Afterschool Network STEM Standards.
- Piloting of the Indiana STEM Ecosystem Needs Assessment Tool