Blue Cheese's STEM advocacy program has its roots in an invitation from FRC 27 Team Rush to join them in Washington, DC in 2013 to advocate for STEM education funding for students in grades K-12. Our participating students were inspired and empowered by the opportunity to speak directly to their lawmakers and tell them about their teams and the life-changing impact of FIRST participation. They came home and built on their new lobbying skills and understanding of government lawmaking and fundraising. They started building relationships with local and state lawmakers that resulted in the passage of SB246 STEM Competition Team Grant Program and Fund, introduced by Virginia State Senator William Stanley. This law established a grant program administered by the Virginia Board of Education for qualified schools-- those where at least 40% of students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch. Our goals for 2018 include spreading the word about this new funding opportunity for underserved schools and their students so that they may have new or expanded opportunities to participate in programs like FIRST.
New in 2018: We are supporting Virginia HB 1111 STEAM programs; establishes STEAM Education Fund. This bill, introduced by Delegate Karen Tran Establishes the STEAM Education Fund for the purpose of awarding grants in amounts not to exceed $50,000 annually to any public elementary or secondary school in the Commonwealth at which at least 25 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch that provides an academic class, curriculum, or activity focused on a science, technology, engineering, arts, or mathematics (STEAM) discipline. Click here for full details on the bill.
We continue to build on our victories from past years and look forward to bringing some of our rookies to Washington for the National Advocacy Conference in June 2018. If you would like to partner with us or need advice on starting or expanding your team's political advocacy program, please email us.
Members of Blue Cheese join Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Sen. Bill Stanley, and Secretary of Education Anne Holton for the signing ceremony of SB 246 in June 2016. The team helped Sen. Stanley draft the text of the bill that is now law in the Commonwealth.