NOAA-21st Century Community Learning Center Watershed STEM Education Partnership Grants Pilot Program

National Marine Sanctuary Foundation makes first NOAA-21st Century Community Learning Centers Watershed STEM Education Partnership Grants Pilot Program Awards

The NOAA Office of Education is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Education and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (the Foundation) to pilot the NOAA-21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) Watershed STEM Education Partnership grants program. Under this new program, competitive grants issued by the Foundation enable experienced environmental education providers to deliver STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) experiences to students at 21st CCLC program sites. This partnership is the newest of four collaborations between the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies focused on leveraging investments in STEM education and will spotlight the unique assets of NOAA as well as the unequalled nationwide reach of the 21st CCLC program.

The 21st CCLC program, the largest out-of-school program in the nation (serving over 1.5 million students in all 50 states), provides academic enrichment opportunities during out-of-school time for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. NOAA-21st CCLC Watershed STEM Education Partnership projects will deliver authentic STEM experiences that use components of the NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program’s meaningful watershed educational experiences (MWEEs), which incorporate multistage learning both outdoors and in the classroom. Through this collaboration of two highly successful programs, these new awards allow experienced B-WET MWEE providers to work with 21st CCLC sites to provide academic enrichment experiences to students and related capacity building to educators, and leverage NOAA resources to increase participants’ understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

In March 2017, the Foundation made awards totaling $500,000 to 17 selected pilot projects, impacting 37 21st CCLC sites in 15 states in all 7 geographic regions served by the B-WET program. Activities will include a wide variety of field experiences and environmental education lessons for youth in watersheds across the nation. Specific examples include, watershed experiences at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County in California, where students explore a nearby coastal ecosystem to learn about the adjacent Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. In the Pacific Northwest, funds will support elementary and middle school students participating in hands-on STEM lessons to investigate salmon recovery in Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. In the Gulf region, funds will support project-based experiential learning for students culminating in the creation of two murals that illustrate the natural and human connections between the watershed and Galveston Bay. Additionally, program-wide evaluation study will assess the process, implementation, and outcomes of the pilot project, and provide recommendations for future program development.

NOAA staff members joins 2 students in the water to try to grab a sample. NOAA staff holds a net in the water, one student holds a smaller handheld net for scooping, and another student holds a bucket.
Middle school students participating in Project Children as Watersheds Stewards (CAWS) Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) of the Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida, a project funded by B-WET Gulf of Mexico. (Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida)

2017 Awards

Artist Boat

Galveston, Texas, $24,853

"How Do You Back the Bay?" will provide 40-50 middle school students with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) project-based and experiential learning where they will learn how watersheds are physically connected to the Bay and how actions taken at a local level will improve water quality regionally.

Boxerwood Education Association

Lexington, Virginia, $42,940

"SPLASH! (Students Pursuing Learning & Adventure with STEM Happenings)" will engage elementary and middle school students  in the Chesapeake Bay headwaters with STEM watershed programming that includes streamside investigations with guest scientists, and a public Save-the-Bay event.

Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit-Center for Schools and Communities

Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, $50,000

The "Green STEMs Project" will build environmental education knowledge, skills and confidence in 8-10 afterschool educators and 200 students, within four 21st CCLC programs located within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.


Litchfield, Connecticut, $50,000

"WoW! The Wonders of Watersheds" will provide high interest, experiential watershed education for 140 Waterbury 21st CCLC students and ten teachers, engaging in a series of multimodal on-site, indoor and outdoor learning opportunities that demonstrate how diverse bodies of water and landscapes are part of a watershed.

Environmental Science Center

Burien, Washington, $21,972

"Salmon Heroes: STEM Training for 21st CCLC Staff and Students" will improve environmental and science literacy for 120 underserved students and 30-40 staff from 21st CCLC sites, engaging students in salmon recovery through hands-on learning and outdoor field studies.

Friends of Deckers Creek

Dellslow, West Virginia, $20,000

"21st Century Watershed Education on Deckers Creek" will serve the Mountaineer Boys and Girls Club with watershed health and pollutants curriculum, technical and literacy education, experiential learning through field trips, and student-driven, solution-based research projects.

Inland Seas Education Association

Suttons Bay, Michigan, $35,614

"21st CCLC Great Lakes Watershed Field Course and STEM Showcase" will inspire 21st CCLC students to consider STEM fields as a means of protecting our Great Lakes through a series of seven unique meaningful watershed environmental education experiences.

Living Classrooms Foundation

Baltimore, Maryland $22,069

"Future STEM Leaders" will provide inquiry-based learning experiences for 60 students focused on the issue of marine debris, and integrated professional development for 21st CCLC partner staff.

Malama Kai Foundation

Kamuela, Hawaii, $28,800

"Ocean Warriors: Watershed-STEM Learning and Action for 21st Century Kohala" will bring place-based meaningful watershed environmental education experiences to Kohala Middle School 21st CCLC Program through stewardship/action projects that emphasize STEM skills and inspire exposure to marine careers.

Marine Science Institute

Redwood City, California, $20,084

"Watershed Investigators" will provide 26 students from Siena Youth Center with an increased exposure to STEM topics and career fields, and build perspectives of their local watershed's connection to the ocean and climate change.

Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, $39,258

"Journeys into the Watershed-Making Connections" will engage two 21st CCLCs in a seven-week experience that reinforces STEM skills and provides watershed focused, place-based learning with extensive field experiences.

Mississippi State University-Gulf Coast Community Design Studio

Biloxi, Mississippi, $25,096

"Getting to Know the Magnolia Bayou through Science, Arts and Culture" will provide 50 students and 2 teachers with STEAM watershed education through learning about watershed dynamics, impacts of stormwater runoff on water quality and quantity, and the important role of watershed planning and action.

Oregon State University

Corvallis, Oregon, $32,088

"Increasing Environmental Literacy Through Meaningful STEM-based Watershed Studies" will work with five 21st CCLC sites and SMILE clubs to directly engage nine teachers and 87 students in the afterschool clubs to educate them about watersheds and watershed issues, also providing STEM professional development and curriculum resources.

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities

Bellingham, Washington, $20,000

The summer "Young Water Stewards" program will engage middle school students from rural Skagit County in STEM investigations of how human land-use practices impact the health of their local watershed through activities such as in-class lessons, water quality testing, and field visits.

Salem Sound CoastWatch

Salem, Massachusetts, $20,000

"STEAMing Ahead in Our Watershed" will immerse underserved students in place-based environmental education incorporating STEM and the arts (STEAM) while increasing ocean literacy and inspiring ocean stewardship at Bates Elementary 21st CCLC site.

Save the Bay

Providence, Rhode Island, $20,483

"Navigating and Discovering Your Watershed" will develop 21st CCLC staff and student skill and interest in the STEM fields and increase environmental literacy through participation in hands-on exploration of the local Narragansett Bay Watershed as well as a watershed protection project.

Turtle Island Restoration Network

Forest Knolls, California, $27,878

"Headwaters to the Sea Summer Environmental Education and Educator Development Program" will provide professional development for 40 day camp educators and implement meaningful watershed education experiences for at least 100 children and youth served by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County's 21st CCLCs.

Learn more about NOAA's current work with the 21st CCLC program.

About the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation:

The Foundation is a private, non-profit organization that connects people to the most valued places in our American ocean and Great Lakes: sanctuaries. Sanctuaries are set aside for their cultural and ecological significance and protect the animals, habitats, and history of the American ocean and Great Lakes for future generations. They are protected for the benefit of the American people, as outdoor classrooms, living laboratories, and amazing places to visit and play. The Foundation partners with NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, as well as other offices within NOAA to advance awareness of environmental issues that impact the ocean and Great Lakes, and activate stewardship of natural and cultural marine resources. The sanctuaries and marine national monuments that are part of the National Marine Sanctuary System are found in every B-WET region, and advance educational partnership programs in these areas helps the Foundation fulfill its mission to enhance sanctuaries in their goal to protect essential U.S. waters and to ensure a healthy ocean. Learn more about the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation offsite link.

About the NOAA B-WET program:

The NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program funds locally relevant, authentic experiential STEM learning for K-12 audiences through multistage Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEE) that include learning both outdoors and in the classroom. The activities are driven by rigorous academic learning standards and aim to increase participants’ understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ocean, coastal, riverine, estuarine, and Great Lakes ecosystems. The B-WET program currently serves seven geographic areas of the country: California, Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Hawai'i, New England, and the Pacific Northwest. Regional implementation allows B-WET programs to support grantee capacity-building and to connect grantees to local NOAA assets and relevant STEM expertise, while being responsive to local education and environmental priorities.

About the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program

The 21st CCLC program provides funding for community learning centers around the country that connect young students with academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. The 21st CCLCs help students meet state and local standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and math, and offer enrichment activities designed to complement and reinforce the regular academic programs.

The 21st CCLC program was created under the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as part of a national strategy to increase the impact of federal investments targeted at underserved student populations.

For more information on the 21st CCLC program and the interagency collaboration visit: Read our 2017 pilot program news story.