Cooke Foundation Awards $100,000 to Close the Excellence Gap in STEM

LANSDOWNE, VA – Low-income students often lack the guidance and support needed to submit successful entries to scientific research competitions, a critical milestone for students intending to pursue careers in STEM disciplines. Thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Society for Science & the Public (SSP) is piloting a new program to recruit teachers, counselors, and scientists to become advocates for these students and help close the Excellence Gap, the disparity between the numbers of low- and high-income students who reach the top levels of academic performance. Thirty to 50 low-income students will participate in the program’s first year.

“We know students from low-income backgrounds can and do succeed in STEM fields when given right support and opportunities, and we are committed to help pave the way for more career scientists from under-resourced populations,” said Harold Levy, executive director of the Cooke Foundation. “The SSP Advocate Grant Program presents an extraordinary opportunity to create an ecosystem of support that will allow these students to thrive.”

With the Cooke Foundation’s award, the SSP Advocate Grant Program will initially recruit nine advocates to work with high-performing middle and high schools and summer science education programs across the country. Selected advocates will receive a $3,000 stipend to coach groups of three to five students in grades 6-11. To qualify for this program, students must have conducted a research project within the last six months or be actively engaged in a project with the intent and interest to apply for a competition in the coming school year. Advocates will advise them on upcoming opportunities to compete and support the application process. This program aims to ensure that students from low-income backgrounds participate and are successful in science research competitions.

Society for Science & the Public (SSP) is one of the nation’s oldest non-profit membership organizations dedicated to public engagement in science and science education. Established in 1921, SSP is a leading advocate for the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. Through its acclaimed education competitions, including the Intel Science Talent Search, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and the Broadcom MASTERS, and its award-winning publications, Science News and Science News for Students, Society for Science & the Public is committed to inform, educate, and inspire.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. By offering the largest scholarships in the country, comprehensive counseling and other support services to students from 7th grade to graduate school, the Foundation is dedicated to ensuring high-performing, low-income students have the support necessary to develop their talents and excel educationally. In addition to its scholarship programs, the Foundation provides grants for innovative, high-impact initiatives that benefit such students. By doing so, the Cooke Foundation seeks to use its resources to end the Excellence Gap, the disparity between the number of low and high income students who reach the top levels of academic performance. Founded in 2000, the Foundation has awarded $130 million in scholarships to 1,900 students and over $80 million in grants.