Sammamish High School wins $4 million federal grant
September 20, 2010 · 4:10 PM
Sammamish High School will receive a $4.1 million federal grant thanks to local efforts to match part of the money.
The money will be used to encourage growth and interest in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Sammamish is the only school in the state to receive a grant.
The grant is from the U.S. Department of Education’s $650 million Investing in Innovation program. It is expected to begin at the school later this month.
To receive the $4.1 million grants, the Bellevue School District had to secure an additional 20 percent in private sector matching donations by Sept. 8. That gave Sammamish Principal Tom Duenwald, the district and the Bellevue Schools Foundation less than five weeks to secure $830,000 in private sector commitments to qualify for the federal grant.
Of the $830,000 in required private matching funds, the largest contribution is coming from the newly established nonprofit organization, Washington STEM, which is providing in-kind staff time and resources valued at $628,700.
“We are thrilled to partner with Sammamish High School and are confident that the work will have a dramatic impact on students,” said Washington STEM Board Chair Dean Allen.
Washington STEM will take what is learned at Sammamish and make it available to other districts across the state.
“Our work will assure that the benefits go far beyond the district’s boundaries, with an emphasis on serving our most at-risk students,” Allen added.
McKinstry, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, The Boeing Company, Lease Crutcher Lewis and others supported Washington STEM’s design phase.
Other funders are supporting the Bellevue project with cash or in-kind donations such as professional development services by the College Board, a video documentary on the key aspects of the transformation at Sammamish by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, and/or STEM mentors for students from industry partner Google.
The Sammamish plan is to increase college and career readiness by closing achievement gaps.
“Improving STEM education is understood broadly as essential to regaining this country’s international competitiveness so we’re not surprised by the interest and support we’ve received for our project,” Duenwald explained.
Support for Sammamish began close to home with a $25,000 donation by the Sammamish Totems Enrichment Programs Foundation.
“Sammamish teachers have worked very hard to make this happen for our students," said Sammamish teacher and STEM planning team member Kim Herzog added. "We feel the problem-based approach will allow our students to gain the skills and knowledge needed to compete in the 21st century.”
The problem-based learning curriculum will be developed by teachers and administrators in collaboration with the district and the University of Washington's Institute for Math and Science Education (UW IMSE). The program, representing a fundamental shift in the educational experience for students.
“This type of innovative, problem-based, instructional model will inform our systemwide goal to prepare our students for success through college to become competitive in a global economy,” said Bellevue Superintendent Amalia Cudeiro.”
The school's grant proposal received letters of support from nationally recognized leaders in the areas of education transformation such as Dr. John Bransford, of the Learning in Informal and Formal Environments (LIFE) Center at the University of Washington; Dr. David Conley, Director of the Center for Educational Policy Research (CEPR), Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership at the University of Oregon; noted biologist Dr. Leroy Hood of the Institute for Systems Biology; and Dr. Pat Wasley, former Dean of the UW College of Education.