Congressman Lowenthal Secures $56M For California STEM and Youth Education Programs

December 15, 2014
Press Release
Congressman Alan Lowenthal has helped secure a collective $56 million in funding for the STARBASE and Sunburst Youth Challenge education programs, both of which operate programs at the Joint Forces Training Base (JFTB) in Los Alamitos.

The funding was included in Congress's $1.1 trillion fiscal year 2015 funding package as part of a request by the Congressman. The House on Thursday and the Senate on Saturday passed the funding package, which now awaits an expected signature from President Obama.

Of the total $56 million, $25 million was included for the STARBASE program, which engages local fifth-grade elementary students by exposing them to STEM subjects through an inquiry based curriculum. In the 47th District, the STARBASE Youth Program Facility at the JFTB serves nearly 4,000 students a year.

The goal of the program is to motivate fifth grade students to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as they continue their education. The academies serve students that are historically under-represented in STEM: students who live in inner cities or rural locations, are socio-economically disadvantaged, low in academic performance, or have a disability.

"Our 21st century economy requires 21st century skill sets. Investing in our children's education in the  STEM fields will make them better prepared for the job market and equipped for success," Congressman Lowenthal said.

Also as part of the $56 million, Congressman Lowenthal helped secure a $31 million increase in 2015 funding for the Sunburst program, which is one of California's National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Programs (NGYCP) and is located on the JFTB in Los Alamitos. The mission of the NGYCP is to help redirect the lives of 16-18 year old high school dropouts and at-risk youth, producing graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens.  The academy offers a 22 week residential program with military-style training that emphasizes the development of academic, cooperation, and leadership skills together with improvements in confidence, pride, and self-esteem. Students who take part in the program obtain 55 high school curriculum credits.

"I have been an educator for much of my adult life, so I appreciate programs such as STARBASE and Sunburst. These programs at the JFTB are doing great work for our community, and we must continue to prepare our youth for our changing economy and help them prepare for their future," Congressman Lowenthal said.

Ultimately, Congressman Lowenthal decided to vote ‘no' on the House funding bill despite significant work and support on many items contained within it, including the STARBASE and Sunburst funds.

"Last minute additions to the bill such as attacks on the Dodd-Frank consumer financial protections and a dangerous expansion of campaign contribution limits to unheard of levels made it impossible for me to vote ‘yes' with a clear conscience. I believe these additions to the bill will hurt people in the 47th District more than the rest of the bill will help them."