Microsoft Funds Massachusetts After-School Learning Programs Focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

BOSTON — April 19, 2007 — When Greg Schwartz first started After School Student Enterprise Teams (ASSET), an after-school entrepreneurship program for at-risk high school students, all he had were a few ice cream carts. He met with students after school, organized work teams and coached them through the process of running an ice cream business to teach critical business skills, including tracking daily sales, calculating profit and using technology to complete market research and promote products. ASSET, now recognized as having the potential of becoming a replicable education model, was one of four programs to receive a Massachusetts Education and Innovation Grant today from Microsoft Corp.’s U.S. Partners in Learning program.

“Everyone learns differently, and many students don’t thrive in a traditional classroom setting,” said Schwartz, whose organization, Solutions Community Development Corp. Inc., runs the ASSET program for at-risk, low-income and minority students in Holyoke, Mass. “This grant from Microsoft will enable us to expand the ASSET model so other school groups can do what we’ve done and provide more students with a real-world setting that they are motivated to achieve in. These kids are getting life skills that will enable them to market themselves in the world.”

Recipients of the Massachusetts Education and Innovation Grants will each receive from $50,000 to $150,000 over the next year to further develop their programs. The grants are designed to support innovative education programs in Massachusetts in the area of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with a special focus on after-school learning. The grants are funded by Microsoft’s U.S. Partners in Learning program, aimed at providing educators and schools with the tools and support they need to deliver on the promise of technology. In addition to being innovative, after-school programs focused on STEM learning, programs that win Massachusetts Education and Innovation Grants are scalable, collaborative, sustainable, sensitive to issues of equity, and successfully embrace the use of technology in teaching and learning.

The other winners of the Massachusetts Education and Innovation Grants are as follows:

  • The Cohasset Center for Student Coastal Research (CSCR), in collaboration with Cohasset Middle High School, runs the Watershed Academy, an after-school program that engages students in hands-on learning, focused on a STEM curriculum. The grant money will enable Cohasset to double the number of Watershed Academy students and sustain the program year-round.

  • Quinsigamond Community College Foundation Inc. will develop an after-school and summer Advanced Robotics Intensive for up to 300 underserved students, grades 6 through 12, in 18 Worcester schools. The students will have the opportunity to participate on a robotics team, compete in tournaments, witness robotics at work in local companies, and receive career mentoring from industry professionals. This program will also give 18 Worcester teachers the opportunity to receive professional development in preparation for leading these after-school robotics intensives.

  • Northeastern University’s Bootstrap program will leverage its existing and successful math and technology curriculum and integrate into Citizen Schools’ existing after-school network.

“There is a growing body of research documenting the importance of after-school learning,” said Mary Cullinane, director, U.S. Partners in Learning at Microsoft. “And as a technology company, we recognize the need to find creative ways to teach science, technology, engineering and math to help students become successful in the 21st century work force. These innovative programs have proved they can bring these critical disciplines to life.”

The U.S. Partners in Learning grants are designed to support and grow proven, successful programs that positively affect K–12 public education in the United States through the innovative use of technology and that can be brought to a broader scale.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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