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June 24. 2014 10:47PM

STEAM Ahead New Hampshire forging ahead with Bean Foundation grants

MANCHESTER — The education innovation program, STEAM Ahead New Hampshire, is living up to its name in the fundraising department.

Project director Robert Baines told the school board on Monday that STEAM is in line to get $75,000 through grants from the Bean Foundation, and he said other philanthropies are also considering lending their support.

The STEAM Academy is set to begin in the fall at Manchester High School West with an inaugural class of 75 students.

The goal of the academy is get students excited in careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and math — hence the acronym — and provide them real-world experience in those fields.

Students would eventually take college-credit earning courses (at no cost to their families) and intern at various companies, including Dyn and SilverTech, the two Manchester companies that are playing lead roles in the program.

Baines, the former city mayor and West principal, said the Bean Foundation initially agreed to provide a $25,000 grant to the program, but then offered an additional $25,000, to be matched with $25,000 in outside donations.

Baines said he was confident that additional donors would step forward, and he noted that Mayor Ted Gatsas had secured commitments for nearly $100,000 in scholarship money.

“This is going to create a revolution in education in this city,” Baines said. “This will be a catalyst, a shining star for what’s happening in public education in Manchester because of the commitment the business community has made.”

Baines said the Manchester office furnishings company Office Resources is also pitching in, agreeing to fashion classrooms that defy the traditional layout.

“When you talk what a classroom is, we think of students in rows and the teacher in front of the class,” West Principal Christopher Motika said. “We want to turn that on its head ... The idea is we want kids to be able to work in pods in small groups, to work together, and collaborate in critical thinking tasks.”

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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