Thanks to strong, strategic partnerships with business, education and community leaders, the NW Washington STEM Network has tremendous momentum to create even more opportunities, make additional connections, and leverage resources in 2022 to achieve the goal of providing every child access to lucrative and rewarding STEM careers.
“Northwest Washington students need strong science, technology, engineering, and math skills to pursue Washington's highest demand career pathways that lead to family-wage jobs – from advanced agriculture, ground-breaking biotechnology, to 21st-century manufacturing,” said Jennifer Veltri, director of the NW Washington STEM Network, which is a catalyst for STEM education in Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties and is a part of Washington STEM. “The challenges of the pandemic in 2021 did not slow our efforts to provide cradle-to-career STEM education opportunities for all our students.”
Here are just a few of the highlights of the Network’s recent success.
Connecting Students to Careers:
- The Spotlight on Women in STEM was launched and featured a series of inspiring videos along with interactive classroom materials that are designed to highlight the tremendous opportunities for women in four of our highest demand, living wage industries in Northwest Washington – IT, Health Care, Engineering and Construction/Advanced Manufacturing. The 34-minute documentary and four shorter videos capture the power of Women in STEM in our community and highlight career professionals, post-secondary and K-12 students pursuing high demand STEM jobs, and programs of study available at the region’s higher education institutions and apprenticeship programs. Watch the documentary here.
- A Career Connect Skagit Summit was hosted by EDASC in partnership with Skagit STEM Network, Career Connect Washington and the NW Washington STEM Network. This event explored the partnership between industry and education while looking for ways for businesses to address workforce shortages. Check out the videos here.
- The creation of one new Career Launch Endorsement (Diesel Power Technology at Skagit Valley College) was supported for a total of 6 endorsements in the NW region. Others include Marine Maintenance (Skagit Valley College), Information Management & Data Science (Skagit Valley College), Computer Information (Whatcom Community College), Cyber Security (Whatcom Community College), Software Development (Whatcom Community College).
- Assistance in the application process was provided for two new Career Connect Washington Intermediary grant recipients (Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association –Ecological Restoration and Vamos Outdoor Project – Education & Social Services) for a total of 8 Intermediary awardees in the NW Region.
- Financial aid is a key component to connecting students to post-secondary training opportunities. Over the last two years, NW Washington STEM has partnered regionally with Futures NW to support over 33 Financial Aid awareness and completion events and 16 high schools in Whatcom, Skagit, and San Juan Counties. We are grateful to the legislature for supporting this work. In the school year 2020-2021, approximately 1,162 Washington students and families participated. Additionally, NW Washington STEM and Snohomish STEM, in partnership with the College Success Foundation, Washington College Access Network and Futures NW, are implementing a Financial Aid Completion campaign based in peer-to-peer social media engagement.
Early Learning and STEM:
- In partnership with Snohomish STEM, the NW Washington STEM Network used WA STEM Early Learning Catalyst Grant funds to support the Northwest Early Learning Coalition in business engagement leveraging Washington STEM’s State of the Children Report.
- Partnering with the NWESD 189, a virtual course was developed for coach teachers to learn about how children develop early numeracy understanding, knowledge, and skill, and then plan for classroom applications and coaching other teachers in their early numeracy practice. As of Fall 2021, coach teachers with an initial reach of 170+ early learning teachers were trained, with an anticipated 2-year reach of 350+ early learning teachers.
- Free Lifelong Learning Education Resources, Virtual Tours and Tips were provided to keep life-long learning going in fun, creative and engaging ways during at-home learning during the pandemic.
Networking in the NW Region
- The NWESD was awarded the Career Connect Washington (CCW) Regional Network grant award in July 2021, establishing the NWESD 189 as the fiscal agent and lead in this key partnership work. NW Washington STEM and Snohomish STEM Directors are co-directing this CCW NW Network, which serves the full NWESD 189 5-county region. In addition, Jennifer Veltri was appointed Network director in 2021, replacing Michelle Judson, and Sinead Fitzpatrick Plagge has stepped into the role of Career Connected Learning Coordinator at the NWESD, rounding out the team.
- The Skagit County school districts agreed to equitably fund the Skagit STEM Manager for the 2021/22 school year, who works within the Skagit County districts and schools to provide hands-on STEM education as well as resources for professional development and business connections.
- Whatcom STEM was established as a TAGNW program. Membership of the planning committee included Bellingham Technical College, Whatcom Community College, Western Washington University, the Port of Bellingham, and Whatcom Business Alliance with the NW Washington STEM Network as an affiliation.
“It is amazing how our Network has grown and evolved and speaks to the relevance of this work and desire for businesses, educators and the community to work together to accomplish program goals and leverage each other’s resources,” Veltri said. “According to a recent Washington STEM analysis, if all of the approximately 4,000 graduating high school seniors in the NW Washington STEM (Island, San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom Counties) region this year received a post-secondary certificate, we still would only be able to fill 50% of the living wage jobs here in our region. But the data today shows that only 50% of our students are getting a post-secondary certificate. We need to work harder and smarter to create solutions and partnership to prepare our students for high-demand jobs that contributes to the vitality of our families, communities, and local economies.”
Veltri noted, “Moving forward, the goal will be to continue growing this work and also expand our focus on equity as there are important voices and faces missing. I look forward to working within the community,” she said. “We welcome your support and participation.”
To get involved in the Network, please click here.