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9/17/2010
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Gates, Barrett Back 'Change The Equation' Education Nonprofit

The organization will provide funding to underprivileged schools and communities for science, technology, engineering and math education.

Former Intel CEO Craig Barrett and Bill and Melinda Gates are just a few of the big names behind a new nonprofit, Change the Equation, that will provide funding to underprivileged schools and communities for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

Change the Equation in the next year plans to replicate successfully funded programs in 100 high-need schools and communities so students there can engage in activities to help prepare students for careers in STEM fields, according to a White House press release. A White House blog post also introduces the new nonprofit and discusses its plans.

The effort was founded by Barrett, astronaut Sally Ride, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt and Eastman Kodak CEO Antonio Perez. The Gates' philanthropic organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as the Carnegie Corp. of New York are also supporting the nonprofit. All in all, Change the Equation has received funding of $5 million for its first year of operation.

Generally, the nonprofit has set goals to improve STEM teaching at all grade levels; to inspire students to gain new appreciation and excitement for STEM learning, in particular women and under-represented minorities; and sustain a commitment to improving STEM education long term.

Specifically, Change the Equation plans to help students participate in robotics competitions, increase the number of them that take and pass Advanced Placement (AP) math and science courses, and provide new opportunities to traditionally underrepresented students and underserved communities.

The nonprofit also plans to help teachers in these areas perform more effectively by improving professional development for math and science teachers and helping to increase the number of teachers who enter the profession with a STEM undergraduate degree, according to the White House. In addition to funding for schools, Change the Equation plans to create a scorecard for each individual U.S. state to highlight areas where students need improvement and to help companies in those regions increase their influence on STEM education.

Last year, President Obama spoke at the National Academy of Sciences and called on people to help improve STEM education as part of his Educate to Innovate campaign. Business leaders were inspired to form Change the Equation by his call the action, according to the White House.

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