July 30, 2012 | Education
Verizon Invests in Stockton Teens with a $20,000 Grant to the Reach for the Stars Academy
Stockton underserved teens are receiving intensive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) instruction thanks to a partnership between the University of the Pacific and the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications.
Despite the negative news surrounding the City of Stockton, with its high unemployment, underperforming schools, record foreclosure rate and recent bankruptcy, hope for a better tomorrow has not faded. This was evident on July 12 when Verizon presented a check for $20,000 to the University of Pacific for the Reach for the Stars Academy in front of a raucous crowd of proud parents and eager students from the Stockton Unified School District at their Academy graduation ceremony.
Funded partly through a Verizon grant, the Reach for the Stars Academy provides 84 underserved students in grades 6-9 with an intensive STEM program that operates for a five-week period in the summer on the Pacific campus over the course of four years. Implemented by credentialed teachers and Pacific student mentors, the sequential curriculum is designed to prepare students with problem solving skills, career opportunities awareness, research and study, teamwork, oral and written communication and field trips. The curriculum is organized to prepare students for advanced placement courses in calculus, physics and statistics.
The academy was piloted in the summer of 2011 and was an overwhelming success. Student performance on pre-and post-tests improved from an average score of 5.32 on the pre-test to a score of 12.75 on the post-test. The improvement represents an increase of 140%.
"Opening the gates of the university and working with the community to prepare our local youth for careers in STEM is part of the Pacific’s commitment to join with businesses and schools to close the achievement gap in the Stockton community," said Lynn Beck, Dean of the Benerd School of Education. "Our partnership with Verizon allows us to increase our capacity and reach out to more students and their families."
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