Calling for Innovative Solutions: Building Partnerships to bring STEM Learning to Schools

Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Opportunity Equation, and Ashoka’s Changemakers® today launched an online collaborative competition to unleash the talent, passion, and real-world skills of experts to engage students of all ages in rich science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning.

The competition, Partnering for Excellence: Innovations in Science + Technology + Engineering + Math (STEM) Education, calls for solutions from community partners and others that engage STEM experts from health care, technology, pharmaceuticals, academia, nonprofits/museums, architecture, graphic-design, banking, and beyond in our nation’s schools, particularly our high-need schools.

The competition’s winners will receive more than $120,000 in cash and in-kind prizes, provided by Ashoka’s Changemakers, Carnegie Corporation for New York, The Opportunity Equation, Alcoa Foundation, Amgen Foundation, ExxonMobil Foundation, Google, Jhumki Basu Foundation, The Mind Trust, and Noyce Foundation, among others.  Entries will be accepted until 5PM EDT on August 3, 2011, and can draw from partnerships that bring STEM talent to students and teachers or can reflect new, innovative ideas or programs. 

Entries will be judged by a panel of experts that includes Tim Brown, President and CEO, IDEO, Caroline Kennedy, President, Kennedy Library Foundation, and Dr. Robert Moses, President, The Algebra Project.

“By partnering with Changemakers, we’re moving beyond education’s traditional boundaries to invite a broader community to help solve one of the most vexing educational challenges—building a stronger foundation in math and science for our nation’s students, particularly in our highest-need schools,” said Michele Cahill, who serves as vice president of National Programs, Carnegie Corporation of New York and co-chair of The Opportunity Equation. “We are thrilled to have such a strong, diverse group of sponsors—representing industry, philanthropy, and the non-profit sector—joining us in offering recognition and monetary prizes for the winners of the competition. Their support underscores the promise of this competition to generate fresh models for teaching the STEM subjects by partnering with the talent and expertise of professionals in the private and not-for-profit sectors.” 

Through this competition, Ashoka’s Changemakers is bringing the power of social entrepreneurs’ innovative problem-solving to improve education. Our country faces a STEM teacher shortage, and President Obama has called for 100,000 new STEM teachers in the next 10 years. The competition seeks solutions that respond creatively to this need through partnerships between talented people from outside schools and the talented people inside them.

The Partnering for Excellence competition is looking for model solutions that deliver STEM content and skills to students by using existing resources from the private and not-for-profit sectors in new ways, demanding shared accountability for student achievement, and fostering long-term collaborations between schools and a wide array of partners. 

“We are excited to have the enthusiastic participation of partnering organizations that are adding cash prizes to this competition: Alcoa Foundation, Amgen Foundation, ExxonMobil Foundation, Google, Jhumki Basu Foundation, The Mind Trust, and Noyce Foundation,” said Diana Wells, president of Ashoka. “This is an opportune moment to vigorously pursue innovative ways for achieving excellence in STEM education. Together, we can help build a movement that reestablishes this nation’s leadership in STEM education while tapping the talents of young people, particularly those in the highest-need schools.”

video, step-by-step instructions, and tips about how to make entries stand out are available online to assist those entering their solutions. Go to to enter the competition, nominate solutions, comment on entries, and discuss and share your ideas for advancing STEM education in the United States.

Beginning on September 28, 2011, the Changemakers online community will vote for their favorite entry, the People’s Choice Award, from a slate of approximately eight competition finalists. The panel of independent judges will also select two finalists as winners of the Judges’ Award. Winners of all of the prizes will be announced on November 16, 2011.


About Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York is a philanthropic foundation created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to do "real and permanent good in this world."  To promote and preserve a robust American democracy, the Corporation supports expanded opportunity through education. The foundation’s work enables many more students, including historically underserved populations and immigrants, to achieve academic success and perform at the highest levels of creative, scientific and technical knowledge and skill.

 About Opportunity Equation

The Opportunity Equation initiative promotes equity and excellence in mathematics and science education. The initiative is a partnership between the Institute for Advanced Study and Carnegie Corporation of New York, and it was created to carry out the recommendations of the Carnegie-IAS Commission on Mathematics and Science Education in its 2009 report, The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy.

 About Ashoka’s Changemakers®

Ashoka’s Changemakers is a community of action that connects social entrepreneurs around the globe to share ideas, inspire, and mentor each other.  Through its online collaborative competitions and open-source process, is one of the world’s most robust spaces for launching, discussing, and funding ideas to solve the world’s most pressing social problems. Changemakers builds on Ashoka's three-decade history and belief that we all have the ability to be a Changemaker.