ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. – The Golden LEAF Foundation awarded $200,000 to Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools (NRM) on Thursday week to implement two STEM Learning Centers in NRM Schools.

“The business community should feel welcome and confident,” said Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach.

STEM East’s goal is just that – to connect employers and educators. Beginning with the end in mind, employers are engaging with the education system to enhance students’ exposure to local careers and develop a pipeline of qualified talent to fill future jobs.

The learning centers will become part of the STEM East Network which is associated with 44 others across eastern NC. The centers look much more like an engineering department in the workplace rather than a traditional classroom. Students engage in project-based, career-relevant, employer-influenced curriculum in a group setting where the teacher is more of a facilitator rather than a lecturer.

STEM Center curricula is aligned with the Career Readiness Certificate (CRC), endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and developed by ACT. More than 150 employers across eastern NC currently endorse the CRC for use in employment decisions.

“I believe that education projects like the Golden LEAF funded STEM Centers in Nash County, are answering the challenge of providing a STEM-skilled workforce,” said STEM East Executive Director Steve Hill. “Employers who understand how to work with these programs to align future graduates with needed STEM positions will benefit from this ‘win-win’ opportunity.”

“Experiences actually change dynamics,” added Dr. Anthony Jackson, superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.

The first two STEM Centers will be career exploration environments in which students will be exposed to a wide array of experiences which relate to local employers.
It is anticipated that the STEM Centers will be installed in summer 2015.

The NCEast Alliance is a regional, not-for-profit, economic development corporation serving approximately 1 million residents within several small metropolitan and micropolitan areas from the fringe of the Research Triangle to the Atlantic Coast. The Alliance provides community capacity building and assists companies with site location and expansion evaluations.