Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), in a bipartisan effort, has secured a total of $30 million in funding for a critical national STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education program.
The funding for the STARBASE program was part of the Department of Defense (DoD) FY2018 appropriations bill passed by the House yesterday. The Congressman secured an identical level of funding for the program last year, and $25 million for the program in each of the FY2014, FY2015, and FY2016 funding cycles. The FY2018 DoD appropriations bill now heads to the Senate.
The Congressman—who is the founder and co-chair of the Congressional STARBASE Caucus—also secured additional protection language in the appropriations bill to ensure that the allocated $30 million would be used solely for the STARBASE and National Guard Youth Challenge Programs.
The STARBASE program—now in 59 locations across 30 states—engages local fifth-grade elementary students by exposing them to first-hand “real-world” applications of STEM skills. In the 47th District, the STARBASE Youth Program Facility at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos serves nearly 4,000 students a year. The program has served more than 1 million students nationwide since its inception.
The goal of the program is to motivate fifth-grade students to explore STEM subjects as they continue their education. The STARBASE academies serve students who are historically underrepresented in STEM: students who live in inner cities or rural locations, are socio-economically disadvantaged, low in academic performance, or have a disability.
“STEM-based skill sets are critical for our children if they are to succeed in the 21st Century. As a former educator I have seen firsthand the importance of investing in the future of our children through education. The STARBASE program is not just an investment in their futures, but in the future of our nation,” Congressman Lowenthal said.
The STARBASE program is administered by the military services because the lack of STEM educated youth in America has been identified as a future national security issue by the Department of Defense.
The bipartisan cosponsors of the bill include: Congresswomen Barbara Comstock (VA-10; STARBASE Caucus co-chair) and Niki Tsongas (MA-03), and Congressmen Keith Ellison (MN-05), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Peter Welch (VT-01).