Entering a New Phase with STEM Grants for Early Learning

Just as young learners observe and experiment, we in the developmental early learning system are trying new things to better support families in preparing children for success in school and in life.
That brings us to a milestone in Thrive Washington’s efforts to stimulate, incubate and scale innovative ideas in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for early learning.

We’ve entered the second phase of the thematic grantmaking effort launched in 2013 with the Discoveries from the Field Fund. Our grantees are now:

  • Identifying and building upon the STEM community assets to share community resources
  • Experimenting with creative ways to engage young children in every day STEM
  • Deepening parents’ ability to engage with their children to promote STEM concepts

In the first phase, five grantees received $35,000 to design and implement STEM early learning projects in their communities. Each was eligible for two more phases of funding, allowing them to further refine their outcome measures and to develop scalable models for use statewide. Three grantees were chosen to advance to this second phase, based on their projects’ benefits to the early learning field, innovative approaches, identification of relevant tools and approaches, and diverse representation.

La Casa Hogar
  • Project: STEM in Daily Life (Yakima County)
  • Prioritized population: Children 2-5 years of age and their families

La Casa Hogar creates a network of Hispanic immigrant parents with STEM knowledge and understanding, in a culturally appropriate setting who support and teach children and other parents STEM in Daily Life concepts and activities. Formalized outcomes measurement tools to effectively document results will be created and used.

Kittitas Early Learning Regional Coalition (Friends of the Library Hal & Homes Center)
  • Project: STEM Parent Child Learning (Kittitas County)
  • Prioritized population: Children ages birth to 5

The coalition will develop parent/child STEM engagement workshops for activity facilitators and teach parents learning targets for school readiness through hands-on activities and take-home activities, serving underserved communities. Both hands-on and take home activities would reinforce STEM concepts for children. Assessment tools will track participant progress and use data to adapt trainings.

Woodland Park Zoo
  • Project: School Readiness through Nature Exploration (King County)
  • Prioritized population: Children ages 1-4 and their families

Family Nature Clubs are a STEM-based enrichment program for early learners and caregivers in underserved communities. FNC use nature exploration to build STEM skills and reinforce the importance of STEM. Sessions include animal encounters and interactions with scientific tools and concepts. Clubs empower caregivers, particularly mothers, to continue STEM activities at home.