In 2009, Congress passed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (SAA), the most sweeping expansion of national service in a generation. The SAA created the Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) to develop and/or support community-based entities to recruit, manage, and support volunteers. Through VGF grants, CNCS seeks to fund effective approaches that expand volunteering, strengthen the capacity of volunteer connector organizations, and develop strategies to effectively use volunteers to solve problems.
The Kansas Volunteer Commission will provide grant funds available under the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to increase the number of STEM mentors serving the youth of Kansas, through the Kansas STEM Mentoring Initiative (VGF) Grant.
According to the US Department of Commerce, STEM jobs in the United States, in the past ten years, have grown at three times the pace of non-STEM jobs. Additionally, eighty percent of the fastest growing occupations in the United States depend upon the mastery of mathematics and scientific knowledge and skills. Yet, it is estimated that by 2018 there will be 1.2 million US job openings in STEM fields, with a significant shortage of qualified applicants to fill them (US2020). Investing in STEM education and sparking the STEM interest in students is necessary to ensure that our youth not only become interested in STEM careers, but are fully prepared when they embark on the college and career pathway to attain their STEM job.
The KVC understands that mentoring is a powerful way to transform a student's vision of themselves. But in order to create a student population with a passion to learn more STEM, and a drive to pursue STEM careers, we know that adults need to do more than lecture to students. Therefore, the Kansas STEM Mentoring Initiative will foster a consistent approach to STEM education, yet allow for organic development of STEM programs matching local strengths, challenges and resources.