Architecture firm to fund rollout of STEM curriculum across IPS

An Indianapolis architectural and engineering firm announced a gift Monday that will provide funding to implement a hands-on STEM curriculum across all of Indianapolis Public Schools’ 56 elementary, middle and high schools.

American Structurepoint is making the $250,000 donation to Indianapolis-based Project Lead the Way—a not-for-profit whose curriculum for science, technology, engineering and math is in more than 8,000 schools nationwide, including five in IPS. 

The funding will provide educator training and equipment needed to expand the program to all IPS schools that opt to participate, said Rick Conner, American Structurepoint’s president and chief operating officer. On top of American Structurepoint's gift, IPS is providing $100,000 in funding and is creating a position to oversee implementation.

“In talking with the superintendent of schools, he is a fan of the project because he already has seen the results," Conner said. "I believe it is absolutely going to be a winner, especially when you see how Project Lead the Way has been successful across the country.”

The gift was announced during a luncheon with a guest list headed by Superintendent Lewis Ferebee and Mayor Joe Hogsett during a Project Lead the Way conference that runs through Wednesday.

Conner said he’s hopeful the expansion of Project Lead the Way in IPS will increase high school graduation rates and prompt more students to pursue STEM degrees in college.

School districts nationwide for years have been trying for years to steer more students into science-oriented careers—in part because such professions boast among the highest starting and mid-career salaries. Minorities and women are largely missing out on the bounty. According to Project Lead the Way, just one in 10 STEM professionals in the U.S. is a minority woman.

Conner said American Structurepoint, which is celebrating 50 years in business this year, decided to make the gift because it wanted to give back to the community, whose growth and vibrancy has made the company’s success possible.
The 375-employee firm has had a hand in a wide range of high-profile Indianapolis projects, including the new Indianapolis International Airport, Mayor Greg Ballard’s Rebuild Indy, and the 16 Tech innovation district now under development.

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