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ESF Joins SUNY's Expanded STEM Mentoring Program

Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows to serve as role models for youth

The State University of New York and New York Academy of Sciences today announced an expansion of the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and pairs student mentors from SUNY campuses with local middle school students.

Three SUNY campuses - Stony Brook University, SUNY Oswego, and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) - will join SUNY Downstate, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), and SUNYIT this fall in training STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to serve as mentors and role models for local middle school students as part of the program.

"The STEM Afterschool Mentoring Program is off to a promising start, with nearly 300 middle schoolers already having received mentoring from SUNY students," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher, who also chairs the Academy's Board of Governors. "We are proud to expand this program to Long Island and Central New York, where more of today's youth will benefit from increased exposure to these critical disciplines and SUNY students will gain valuable experience in their field."

"The Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program is an elegant solution to two complex problems," said Ellis Rubinstein, president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences. "First, it engages students from low-resource settings in STEM subjects; second, it provides STEM graduate students and post-docs with opportunities to hone their communication and teaching skills. The Academy is thrilled to work with SUNY which provides a large pool of outstanding mentors and robustly supports those mentors on an institutional level," Rubinstein adds. "We are excited about the enormous potential impact of this collaboration all across the State."

In September, SUNY, the New York Academy of Sciences, and SUNY Empire State College were awarded a $2.95 million grant from the National Science Foundation to bring to scale a successful afterschool program in which graduate students and postdoctoral fellows serve as mentors to students in high-need middle schools. In the first year of the project (2012-13), more than 30 mentors from three pilot campuses served nearly 300 middle school students.

Through the NSF grant, SUNY and the Academy are working together to build a comprehensive, systemic science education initiative that spans New York. After extensive training facilitated by the Academy and SUNY Empire State College, graduate and postdoctoral mentors provide hands-on tutoring in a number of curricular topics, including genetics, math, and human body systems, that are designed to engage and excite students.

The participating SUNY students are supported by campus faculty and receive the types of mentoring and teaching expertise that give them a competitive edge toward achieving their professional goals, while also providing them with opportunities to teach youth critical STEM skills and act as positive role models.

"Congratulations to the six participating SUNY campuses for helping to bring this innovative STEM mentoring program to scale," said SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for the Education Pipeline Johanna Duncan-Poitier. "At SUNY, we are committed to helping more students graduate from high school prepared for college and the workforce. Science literacy and fundamental skills in the STEM disciplines are critical to student success. Our three pilot schools have done great work in bringing STEM experience to the students who need it most, and we look forward to the research-based results this expansion will bring to the development of a systemic infrastructure for STEM and the education pipeline."