STEM COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS – discussions for teachers, school officials, community leaders and the many others impacted by school closures and virtual learning.

STEM Virtual Home Lab – workshops with practical tips, virtual experiments and concrete tools that families and teachers – even those with little time, few resources and no STEM or teaching experience – can use to engage children’s learning.

STEM Talks – a podcast devoted to issues related to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic and its impact on learning.

“STEM Thoughts” – Blogs, letters, pictures and other messages focused on how communities and leaders are dealing with the global pandemic and planning for the future.

COVID – 19 Resource Library – Activities for children

The SLECoP is organizing a series of webinars for parents, educators, school administrators and anyone who have students in their care. These webinars are intended to help them with practical tips they can employ for how to keep their children engaged and learning with STEM at Home.

Stay Connected

Do you have ideas for simple STEM at Home activities pitched for any age children that you’d like to share through a virtual webinar? We will organize the webinar and work with you on best practices for such delivery – submit ideas here.

Also, members of the Community of Practice have been sharing ideas for how to keep the learning going. We are curating those resources as they come in and will be updating them regularly.

Here is the current list.

Do you know of other resources that should be added? Please submit them.

Online Resources to Engage Students During the Pandemic

To view the full version of this resource click here.

Ecosystems have been responding to the pandemic within their local communities by offering resources for families and others. Here are a few examples of Ecosystems demonstrating a rapid response to community needs.

QuaranSTEAM lauches a face mask challenge – Open to All

As part of our QuaranSTEAM efforts, UNCW Engineering Expectations is challenging kids and families to engineer a prototype face mask with items found in their home.

Just like the Apollo 13 mission astronauts who experienced a most extreme form of social isolation in space along with hostile environmental conditions due to a buildup of CO2, you can only use supplies that you can find in your house (or spaceship) to engineer a solution.

Watch the video here.

Details about the design requirements can be found here.

Upload your design, tag @UNCWEngineeringExpectations, and we will repost them.

Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance

As an active Ecosystem collaborator, both internationally and within their local community, the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance continues to share resources for families to engage their students at home. Click below to see some activities you can do today.

About the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance

The Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance (TRSA) builds broad, deep, and innovative pathways for students to access high-impact careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative

Ecosystem leader, Project Exploration, has compiled a list of resources to support families during school closures in Illinois due to COVID-19.

Access Chicago’s list here

About the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative

The Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative convenes stakeholders in Chicago’s STEM ecosystem to address inequities in the STEM learning continuum by facilitating cross-sector knowledge building, collaboration, and collective action.

Guided by the premise that access to a continuum of high-quality, STEM experiences across all years of development can provide a strong foundation for success in adulthood and support civic, college, and work readiness.

Understand that the STEM ecosystem reflects the combined STEM learning opportunities for students and families, recognizing that STEM learning can happen any time, anywhere, at any pace.

Recognize that access to STEM learning opportunities in Chicago is unequal and therefore, we strive to advance policies and practices to close opportunity gaps and address inequities, at both the system and local level.

Convene cross-sector stakeholders to move from a fragmented STEM landscape of efforts towards a coordinated approach.

Federal Responses

Secretary DeVos Makes Available Over $13 Billion in Emergency Coronavirus Relief to Support Continued Education for K-12 Students

Flexible CARES Act funds empower state and local education leaders to think creatively to address student, educator needs during national emergency

April 23, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today that more than $13.2 billion in emergency relief funds are now available to state and local education agencies to support continued learning for K-12 students whose educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus. This funding is allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed by President Donald J. Trump less than a month ago. Education leaders will have the flexibility to use funds from the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) for immediate needs, such as tools and resources for distance education, ensuring student health and safety, and developing and implementing plans for the next school year.

“This national emergency continues to shine a light on the need for all schools to be more agile,” said Secretary DeVos. “Now is the time to truly rethink education and to get creative about how we meet each student’s unique needs. The funding made available today has very few bureaucratic strings attached and empowers local education leaders to do just that. I encourage them to focus on investing in the technology, distance learning resources, training and long-term planning that will help education continue for both teachers and students, no matter where learning takes place.”

Local leaders are empowered with the flexibility to determine how to use their ESSER funds, as long as they are used in ways that comply with applicable federal education laws. The ESSER Fund has important safeguards in place to ensure that this funding goes to help students continue learning. State education agencies (SEAs) must allocate 90% of their ESSER funds to local education agencies (LEAs), including public charter schools, in proportion to the amount of FY 2019 funds the LEA received under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Up to 10% of the SEA’s award may be retained for the state agency to use to address needs related to responding to coronavirus. After one year, SEAs must return any funds that have not been awarded, and the Secretary will reallocate those funds to the states. To see state allocations for the ESSER Fund, click here.

The Department implemented a streamlined process for states to apply for and receive this critical funding by cutting red tape and removing unnecessary delays. SEAs have until July 1, 2020, to apply for ESSER funds by submitting a simple signed Certification and Agreement form to The Department intends to process each submitted form within three business days of receipt. For more information, click here.

The funding allocations announced today are part of the nearly $31 billion Congress allocated to the Department to distribute to students, K-12 schools, and higher education institutions. The Department, at the Secretary’s urging, has continued to make funds available as quickly as possible.

Today’s action follows the Department’s earlier announcement of a turnkey waiver process allowing states to cancel federally mandated standardized testing in response to widespread school closures in the wake of the declaration of a national emergency. The Department also developed a streamlined process for providing states with funding flexibilities so that they can repurpose existing K-12 education funds for technology infrastructure and teacher training on remote learning and to move resources to areas of highest need. The Department also moved quickly to provide guidance on ensuring students with disabilities have access to distance learning opportunities and to provide an extension for states that need additional time to develop career and technical education plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V).

The Department continues to update with information on COVID-19 for students, parents, educators and local leaders.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the following websites:, and

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Availability of $42.5 Million in Youth Apprenticeship Grants

April 6, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) today announced the availability of $42.5 million in Youth Apprenticeship Readiness grants to support the enrollment of in-school or out-of-school youth apprentices (ages 16-24) into new or existing Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs).

“These apprenticeship grants offer communities the opportunity to make targeted investments today that will fuel future economic growth, by enabling young people to earn a living while learning critical job skills at the same time,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said.

ETA intends to fund approximately 15 to 25 Youth Apprenticeship Readiness grants, with awards ranging from $1 million to $5 million. The amount of grant funding an applicant can receive will depend on the proposed number of youth enrolled in RAPs.
“The importance of providing multiple pathways to career success cannot be overstated,” Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John P. Pallasch said. “For too long, higher education was seen as the only path, but we know that’s not the only or best choice for many young adults. This investment in youth apprenticeship is key to helping broaden understanding of career options, and to giving these young adults an on-ramp to apprenticeship.”
In June 2017, the President issued an Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeship in America, focusing on expanding apprenticeships to secondary and post-secondary institutions, and increasing youth participation. This grant program supports the President’s Executive Order and ETA’s goals to expand access to youth apprenticeships, to promote pre-apprenticeship programs, and to develop a strong youth apprenticeship pipeline.

As a critical step toward advancing high-quality registered apprenticeship programs in the United States, these funds will be awarded to the lead entity of a youth apprenticeship partnership that seeks to partner with business and industry to develop new RAPs or expand existing RAPs. Through this grant program, the partnership will directly engage educational entities, including traditional, alternative and non-traditional schools, as well as programs that serve out-of-school youth, school boards, workforce boards, employers, workforce partners and other apprenticeship intermediaries, to develop comprehensive approaches to establishing new apprenticeship models for youth or expanding existing apprenticeship programs for youth. Specifically, the funds will support training for thousands of underrepresented youth for apprenticeships in new and non-traditional occupations or expanded apprenticeship programs.

Information on how eligible applicants can apply for funding can be found at here. Also, please visit to learn more about the department’s broader efforts to connect career seekers with apprenticeship opportunities and expand apprenticeship into new sectors and industries.

ETA administers federal job training and dislocated worker programs, federal grants to states for public employment service programs, and unemployment insurance benefits. These services are primarily provided through state and local workforce development systems.

The department’s mission is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the U.S.; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Authorizes New Funding Flexibilities to Support Continued Learning During COVID-19 National Emergency

April 6, 2020

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today a new streamlined process for providing states funding flexibilities to best meet the needs of students and educators during the COVID-19 national emergency. the national emergency The new flexibilities, authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allow schools to repurpose existing K-12 education funds for technology infrastructure and teacher training on distance learning, among other flexibilities to move resources to areas of highest need during.

“Across the country, students, teachers and families are proving that learning can and does happen anywhere,” said Secretary DeVos. “By extending additional funding flexibility to schools, we are helping to ensure student learning continues and supporting teachers as they transition to virtual classrooms. Local leaders have asked for the ability to steer more resources to local needs, and these new tools will help them do just that.”

The CARES Act, signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on March 27, now allows states and school districts to devote more of their federal resources to technology infrastructure to support distance learning for students and for professional development for teachers who are teaching remotely, many for the first time. By providing a streamlined process to obtain funding flexibilities, states will be able to quickly make decisions to meet the needs of their students.

Any state may complete a brief form available at, and it will receive an initial determination within one business day. Using the form, states can receive flexibility in the use of funds and other requirements covered under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), including the Title I, Parts A-D, Title II, Title III, Part A, Title IV, Parts A-B, and Title V programs. Specifically, states may request a waiver of:

  • Section 1127(b) of Title I, Part A of the ESEA to waive the 15% carryover limitation for Title I, Part A funds;
  • Section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) to extend the period of availability of prior fiscal year funds, for Title I, Parts A-D, Title II, Title III, Part A, Title IV, Parts A-B, and Title V, Part B programs, and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Youth program;
  • Section 4106(d) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA to waive a needs assessment to justify the use of funds;
  • Section 4106(e)(2)(C), (D), and (E) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA to waive content-specific spending requirements;
  • Section 4109(b) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA to waive spending restrictions on technology infrastructure; and
  • Section 8101(42) of the ESEA to waive the definition of “professional development,” which might otherwise limit the ability to quickly train school leaders and teachers on topics like effective distance learning techniques.

This action follows the Department’s earlier announcement of a turnkey waiver process allowing states to cancel federally-mandated standardized testing, in response to widespread school closures in the wake of the declaration of a national emergency. Since that announcement, Secretary DeVos has approved waivers for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It further builds on the Department’s actions to support states and local education leaders since the outbreak of COVID-19, including guidance on ensuring students with disabilities have access to distance learning opportunities and providing an extension for states that need additional time to develop career and technical education plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V).

The Department continues to update with information for students, parents, educators and local leaders about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the following websites:, and

Office of Science and Technology Policy

March 18, 2020

White House OSTP Leads Effort to Increase Access to Online
Education Resources

Last week, as part of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s COVID-19 technology initiative, American technology companies were called on to make online learning resources more accessible for teachers, parents, and students as more Americans are encouraged to stay home amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Today, the technology industry rose to the occasion with the launch of, a new resource for educators, administrators, and public officials who are turning to online learning as coronavirus response disrupts the school year. is a searchable online database of education technology tools that facilitate online classrooms and teaching, allowing educators to search for free and discounted tools and services by grade level, product type, and subject matter. The site, coordinated by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), will be continually updated and will soon include additional resources geared towards parents and students.

“Teachers and educators across the Nation will be relying on technology now more than ever. During this unprecedented time, the Trump Administration is committed to ensuring America’s educators and families have the technology tools to bring classrooms online. We are grateful to the technology and education leaders who jumped into action to launch this important resource,” said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios.

“As our nation deals with the dynamic challenges resulting from this public health crisis, SIIA’s members and partners are supporting education and our nation’s communities — at all levels — as they transition to or extend their online learning capabilities,” said SIIA President Jeff Joseph. “Tech for Learners will assist educators and school administrators in identifying the EdTech solution that best fits the specific needs of their school, student population, and educational community – from distance and online learning to remote administration and telework. Our hope is this will provide them, along with parents and students, some peace of mind and certainty in these uncertain times.”

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