A $250,000 grant from the APS Foundation will fund the launch of a STEM Focus Schools for the Future program at Northern Arizona University.

The program, to be operated in partnership with NAU’s Center for Science Teaching and Learning, will allow 12 STEM-focused public schools (K-8) to enhance teacher preparation in science, technology, engineering and math.

“We are very excited about this partnership that will support education in the STEM disciplines,” said Jackie Menasco, associate director of CSTL. “It will bring together professional development experts, in-service teachers and pre-service teachers to enhance STEM education.”

According to Janet McShane, director of the NAUTeach Program, “The opportunity for our future teachers to partner with teachers and students in STEM-focused schools is invaluable. Our students, who are trained in science and mathematics, will bring their content knowledge to the school classrooms and the classroom teachers will supply the future teachers with valuable experience from the field.”

The grant to NAU was one of nine grants totaling $660,000 that were awarded to nonprofits located throughout Arizona.

In February, the APS Foundation started targeting its funding to support STEM education programs because of Arizona’s low ranking of student proficiency in those subjects. Of the 30 fastest growing occupations projected through 2016, more than half will require mastery within the STEM subjects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Arizona student performance in those subjects continues to lag behind the rest of the nation.

“Community response to our new funding philosophy underscores the great need for STEM-based programs in Arizona,” said Julie Coleman, executive director of the APS Foundation.