“If we want America to lead in the 21st century, nothing is more important than giving everyone the best education possible — from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career.”

—President Barack Obama


Knowledge and Skills for the Jobs of the Future

Educate to Innovate

One of the things that I’ve been focused on as President is how we create an all-hands-on-deck approach to science, technology, engineering, and math… We need to make this a priority to train an army of new teachers in these subject areas, and to make sure that all of us as a country are lifting up these subjects for the respect that they deserve.

President Barack Obama
Third Annual White House Science Fair, April 2013

The Obama Administration stands committed to providing students at every level with the skills they need to excel in the high-paid, highly-rewarding fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

That’s why in November 2009, the President launched the Educate to Innovate initiative to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade. This campaign includes the efforts not only of the Federal Government, but also of leading companies, foundations, non-profits, and science and engineering societies who have come forward to answer the President’s call for all-hands-on deck.

To date, this nation-wide effort has garnered over $700 million in public-private partnerships and hit major milestones in the following priority areas:

  1. Building a CEO-led coalition to leverage the unique capacities of the private sector
  2. Preparing 100,000 new and effective STEM teachers over the next decade
  3. Showcasing and bolstering federal investment in STEM
  4. Broadening participation to inspire a more diverse STEM talent pool


Building a CEO-Led Coalition to Leverage the Unique Capacities of the Private Sector

President Obama believes that our hardest challenges require an “all hands on deck” approach, bringing together government, industry, non-profits, philanthropy and others working together.

He also challenged and called on leaders such as Ursula Burns (Xerox), Sally Ride, Craig Barrett (formerly of Intel), and Glenn Britt (Time Warner Cable) to leverage the business community interest in improving STEM education.

Together, they recruited over a 100 other CEOs and in September 2010 the President helped launch Change the Equation, a new non-profit with full-time staff dedicated to mobilizing the business community to improve the quality of STEM education in the United States.

In its first year, Change the Equation accomplished the following goals:

  • Expanded proven STEM education programs to sites across the country
  • Developed a new toolkit for CEO local action called “Vital Signs,” collecting key metrics that empower CEOs to advocate in communities where they are the largest employers for STEM reform
  • Created a new blueprint for how companies can create and invest in STEM programs

Preparing 100,000 Effective STEM teachers Over the Next Decade

President Obama believes that great teaching is a key part of any child’s success, and in the STEM fields, it is critical to creating educational experiences that project-based, hands-on and build a love of lifelong learning.

That’s why President Obama challenged the nation to recruit and prepare 100,000 new effective teachers over the next decade.

Already, more than 150 foundations, companies, and others have come together to lead 100Kin10, a coalition that will work to help reach part of the President’s goal through private funds and challenge Congress to fund the rest.

100Kin10 partners take action by 1) increasing the supply of excellent STEM teachers; 2) hiring, developing, and retaining excellent STEM teachers; and 3) building the 100Kin10 movement. All partners bring content expertise and programmatic or funding capacity to advance the initiative and will participate in an R&D platform designed by the University of Chicago, which will enable continuous improvement for partners and measure a broad range of outcomes across the initiative.

With leadership from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the coalition has already raised over $30 million from a broad range of foundations and philanthropists under a unique “funding marketplace” model through which funders can choose from a registry of high-quality proposals.

Additionally, the Administration also recently announced the creation of a STEM Master Teacher Corps that seeks to elevate and engage a talented squad of existing STEM teachers from across the country in the proliferation of best practices and effective professional development. 

Broadening participation to inspire a more diverse STEM talent pool

President Obama knows that we simply cannot, as a Nation, expect to maintain our run of ingenuity and innovation—we cannot maintain that stream of new and different ideas—if we do not broaden participation in STEM to all Americans, including women and girls and minorities. To that end the Administration has taken steps to bolster the participation of these groups through in the following ways:

  • Focusing on underrepresented groups: Engaging and broadening participation of underrepresented groups lies at the heart of many of the aforementioned initiatives, such as Change the Equation, whose third pillar focuses on increasing opportunities for women, girls, and minorities.
  • Exposing girls and young women to STEM fields: Through innovative arrangements such as the NASA/Girl Scouts of the USA partnership, the Department of Energy’s Women in STEM mentoring program, and numerous other commitments, agencies across the Administration and the private sector are creating opportunities for students to gain hands on experience and guidance as they navigate STEM subjects.
  • Setting the standard with exceptional role models: Recognizing the need for more women champions and role models in STEM fields, the President has appointed a number of talented women to lead science and technology efforts for the administration, including Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar, and National Science Foundation Acting Director Cora Marrett. Many of these women have also committed to reaching out to students through the OSTP/Council on Women & Girls Women in STEM Speakers Bureau.
  •  Promoting tech inclusion: In January 2013, the White House issued a call to tech innovators to work together to ensure that all youth—particularly those from underserved and historically underrepresented communities, including women and girls—have the opportunity to study STEM subjects and participate in the technology sector.

Girls in STEM: A New Generation of Women in Science

Girls in Stem

Additional Commitments

America is already stepping forward to meet these challenges. As part of the “Educate to Innovate” effort, the following major public-private partnerships are harnessing the power of media, interactive games, hands-on learning, and community volunteers to reach millions of students over the next four years, inspiring them to be the next generation of inventors and innovators.

  • Time-Warner Cable, Discovery Communications, Sesame Street, and other partners will get the message to kids and students about the wonder of invention and discovery.
  • National STEM design competitions will develop game options to engage kids in scientific inquiry and challenging designs.
  • The President has often said that winners of science and engineering fairs should be celebrated like NCAA champions. Through the White House Science Fairs, the President has welcomed middle and high school students to celebrate their accomplishments and display their most cutting-edge science, technology and engineering projects. 
  • The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will announce a new dedicated cohort of national service participants, called STEM AmeriCorps, who will be places in nonprofits that mobilize STEM professionals to inspire young people to excel in STEM education. As a key first step, CNCS will place 50 AmeriCorps VISTA members across the country to build the capacity of FIRST, a nonprofit organization that sponsors robotics competitions and other tech challenges. 
  • In response to the President’s call to action, ten leading education non-profits and U.S. technology companies, including Fortune 500 firms SanDisk, Cognizant, and Cisco are launching US2020, an all-hands-on-deck effort to have many more STEM professionals mentor children from kindergarten through college. 
  • In Summer 2013, the Maker Education Initiative will launch the first-ever MakerCorps of volunteers who will give more young people the opportunity to design and build something that is personally meaningfully to them. In its first year, over 100 MakerCorps members – in 19 states and Washington D.C. —will work work with 34 different partner organizations such as schools, libraries, and science centers.
  • As part of the First Lady’s Joining Forces effort, the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), in partnership with Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) and Military Impacted Schools Association (MISA), is leading a campaign to give many more students at public high schools serving a high percentage of military families access to rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) coursework in math and science. 

Reports from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Policy

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Policy have also taken a close look at the challenge of bringing students from the middle to the top of the pack in STEM Education both throughout grades K-12 and higher-education.