October 22, 2015


IMLS Press Contact
Giuliana Bullard, gbullard@imls.gov

ASTC To Promote STEM Learning with AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers

IMLS funding will benefit youth in low-income neighborhoods

Washington, DC—Seven science centers and museums are part of a pilot project aimed at finding new ways to introduce youth in low-income neighborhoods to STEM programs and careers. The pilot is part of a $147,304 grant given by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC). The innovative project leverages the national infrastructure of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps VISTA program by engaging VISTA members with science centers and museums in targeted communities.

The seven science centers and museums involved in the project are:

  • Chabot Space & Science Center (Oakland, California)
  • Lawrence Hall of Science (Berkeley, California)
  • Exploratorium (San Francisco, California)
  • California Science Center (Los Angeles, California)
  • Discovery Cube (Los Angeles, California)
  • New York Hall of Science (Queens, New York)
  • Bishop Museum (Honolulu, Hawaii)

The science centers will benefit from the work of VISTA members who will compile data about the reach of existing science center STEM programs and identify target community organizations that could help the centers increase their capacity to reach low-income youth.  As part of the project, ASTC will disseminate to the museum field a comprehensive guide and resources on the use of VISTA members as community organizers, as well as the knowledge, projects, and programs produced by the project sites.  The guide will be published at the conclusion of the pilot year in July 2016.

“It is exciting to support a project that aligns so closely with the IMLS goals of promoting museums as community anchors and of supporting learning experiences that prepare people for success in our rapidly changing economy,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “By increasing access to STEM programming in high-need areas, the project will go far to equip young people with the skills and motivation they need to succeed for a brighter future.”

The VISTA volunteer teams gathered for the first time this month during the 2015 ASTC annual conference in Montreal, QC, Canada, and will begin the work of producing the guide.

To learn about resources that will become available for museums, contact Peter DeCarolis, ASTC’s VISTA project director, at pdecarolis@astc.org.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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