Interagency partnership allows for new STEM environmental education grants

Partnership Announcement

Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida

Contact: Marcus Reamer,, (301) 608-3040 x 311

Washington, DC; April 10, 2017–The NOAA Office of Education is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Education and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (the Foundation) to pilot the NOAA-21st CCLC Watershed STEM Education Partnership grants program. Under this new program, competitive grants issued by the Foundation enable NOAA partners to deliver STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) experiences to students at 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program sites. This partnership is the newest of four collaborations between the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies focused on leveraging investments in STEM education. This interagency collaboration will spotlight the unique assets of NOAA as well as the unequaled nationwide reach of the 21st CCLC program.

The 21st CCLC program, the largest out-of-school program in the nation—serving over 1.5 million students in all 50 states, provides academic enrichment opportunities during out-of-school time for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. NOAA-21st CCLC Watershed STEM Education Partnership projects will deliver authentic STEM experiences that use components of the NOAA Bay-Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program’s meaningful watershed educational experiences. These awards allow environmental education providers to work with 21st CCLC sites to provide academic enrichment experiences to students and related capacity building to educators, and leverage NOAA resources to increase participants’ understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

In March 2017, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation made awards totaling $500,000 to 17 selected pilot projects, impacting 37 21st CCLC sites in 15 states. These awards mark the largest single disbursement of grants related to one program in the history of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Activities will include field experiences and environmental education lessons for youth at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County in California, including a coastal ecosystem visit to learn about the adjacent Cordell Banks National Marine Sanctuary. In the Pacific Northwest, funds will support elementary and middle school students participating in hands-on STEM lessons to investigate salmon recovery in the Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. In the Gulf region, funds will support project-based experiential learning for students culminating in the creation of two murals that illustrate the natural and human connections between the watershed and Galveston Bay. In addition, the Foundation commissioned an evaluation study to assess the process, implementation and outcomes of the pilot project, and provide recommendations for future program development.

“The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is proud to work with the Department of Education and NOAA to invest in the next generation of ocean stewards,” said Kris Sarri, President & CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. “This innovative STEM partnership will allow us to work with students and educators from across the country to draw the powerful connection between our land and water and inspire local action to conserve our watersheds.”

2017 Award Winners: 


Artist Boat

Galveston, Texas, $24,853

“How Do You Back the Bay?” will provide 40-50 middle school students with STEAM project-based and experiential learning where they will learn how watersheds are physically connected to the Galveston bay and how actions taken at a local level will improve water quality regionally.


Boxerwood Education Association

Lexington, Virginia, $42,940

“SPLASH! (Students Pursuing Learning & Adventure with STEM Happenings)” will engage elementary and middle school students in the Chesapeake Bay headwaters with STEM watershed programming that includes streamside investigations with guest scientists and a public Save-the-Bay event.


Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit-Center for Schools and Communities

Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, $50,000

The “Green STEMs Project” will build environmental education knowledge, skills and confidence in 8-10 after school educators and 200 students through four programs located within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.



Litchfield, Connecticut, $50,000

“WoW! The Wonders of Watersheds” will provide high interest, experiential watershed education for 140 Waterbury students and ten teachers, engaging in a series of multimodal on-site, indoor and outdoor learning opportunities that demonstrate how diverse bodies of water and landscapes are part of a watershed.


Environmental Science Center

Burien, Washington, $21,972

“Salmon Heroes: STEM Training for 21st CCLC Staff and Students” will improve environmental and science literacy for 120 underserved students and 30-40 staff, engaging students in salmon recovery through hands-on learning and outdoor field studies.


Friends of Deckers Creek

Dellslow, West Virginia, $20,000

“21st Century Watershed Education on Deckers Creek” will serve the Mountaineer Boys and Girls Club with watershed health and pollutants curriculum, technical and literacy education, experiential learning through field trips, and student-driven, solution-based research projects.


Inland Seas Education Association

Suttons Bay, Michigan, $35,614

“21st CCLC Great Lakes Watershed Field Course and STEM Showcase” will inspire students to consider STEM fields as a means of protecting our Great Lakes through a series of seven unique meaningful watershed environmental education experiences.


Living Classrooms Foundation

Baltimore, Maryland $22,069

“Future STEM Leaders” will provide inquiry-based learning experiences for 60 students focused on the issue of marine debris, and integrated professional development for 21st CCLC partner staff.


Malama Kai Foundation

Kamuela, Hawaii, $28,800

“Ocean Warriors: Watershed-STEM Learning and Action for 21st Century Kohala” will bring place-based meaningful watershed environmental education experiences to Kohala Middle School through stewardship/action projects that emphasize STEM skills and inspire exposure to marine careers.


Marine Science Institute

Redwood City, California, $20,084

“Watershed Investigators” will provide 26 students from Siena Youth Center with an increased exposure to STEM topics and career fields, and build perspectives of their local watershed’s connection to the ocean and climate change.


Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, $39,258

“Journeys into the Watershed-Making Connections” will engage two 21st CCLCs in a seven-week experience that reinforces STEM skills and provides watershed focused, place-based learning with extensive field experiences.


Mississippi State University-Gulf Coast Community Design Studio

Biloxi, Mississippi, $25,096

“Getting to Know the Magnolia Bayou through Science, Arts and Culture” will provide 50 students and 2 teachers with STEAM watershed education through learning about watershed dynamics, impacts of stormwater runoff on water quality and quantity, and the important role of watershed planning and action.


Oregon State University

Corvallis, Oregon, $32,088

“Increasing Environmental Literacy Through Meaningful STEM-based Watershed Studies” will work with SMILE clubs to directly engage nine teachers and 87 students in the after school clubs to educate them about watersheds and watershed issues, also providing professional development and curriculum resources.


RE Sources for Sustainable Communities

Bellingham, Washington, $20,000

The summer “Young Water Stewards” program will engage middle school students from rural Skagit County in STEM investigations of how human land-use practices impact the health of their local watershed through activities such as in-class lessons, water quality testing, and field visits.


Salem Sound CoastWatch

Salem, Massachusetts, $20,000

“STEAMing Ahead in Our Watershed” will immerse underserved students in place-based environmental education incorporating STEM and the arts (STEAM) while increasing ocean literacy and inspiring ocean stewardship.


Save the Bay

Providence, Rhode Island, $20,483

“Navigating and Discovering Your Watershed” will develop 21st CCLC staff and student skill and interest in the STEM fields and increase environmental literacy through participation in hands-on exploration of the local Narragansett Bay Watershed as well as a watershed protection project.


Turtle Island Restoration Network

Forest Knolls, California, $27,878

“Headwaters to the Sea Summer Environmental Education and Educator Development Program” will provide professional development for 40 day camp educators and implement meaningful watershed education experiences for at least 100 children and youth served by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County.