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Science Center Awarded $3.975M US Department of Education Grant for FirstHand

(December 20, 2021- Philadelphia) – The University City Science Center has been awarded a five-year, $3.975 million grant from the US Department of Education that will enable its STEM education initiative, FirstHand, to advance educational opportunities for more underserved Philadelphia middle school students. The grant was among $182 million awarded to 30 school districts, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations as part of the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program.

Through the grant, the Science Center will serve over 300 6th- 8th grade students at eight West Philadelphia schools, including six public schools. FirstHand curricula will advance evidence-based STEM educational practices through immersive, inquiry-based experiences in an out-of-school lab setting. AnLar LLC and Palmer Wolf Corporation, who will serve as research and evaluation partners on the grant, will conduct a formative evaluation to collect baseline data and refine program delivery, in addition to a summative evaluation to demonstrate the effectiveness of the curricula on students’ STEM identities, competencies, and skills.

“The Science Center is ensuring that Philadelphia youth can participate in and benefit from the region’s thriving life sciences ecosystem. FirstHand’s unique combination of STEM career exposure, industry-informed curricula, and project-based learning helps put students on that pathway.”

Tiffany Wilson

“The Science Center is ensuring that Philadelphia youth can participate in and benefit from the region’s thriving life sciences ecosystem. FirstHand’s unique combination of STEM career exposure, industry-informed curricula, and project-based learning helps put students on that pathway,” says Science Center President & CEO, Tiffany Wilson. “We are incredibly grateful to the Department of Education for this grant which enables us to open more doors for the minds of tomorrow.”

FirstHand is designed to spark an interest in STEM career pathways for Philadelphia’s middle and high school students. The program expands on the Science Center’s larger focus of advancing healthcare innovation through critical startup support and by building inclusive STEM pathways for Philadelphia youth and adults.

FirstHand’s programming takes place in a state-of-the-art learning lab at 3675 Market Street at uCity Square. The 5,000 square foot space features two wet labs, a makerspace pairing traditional hand and power tools with cutting edge prototyping tools such as laser cutters, and a digital studio equipped with laptops and design software.

Since launching in 2014, FirstHand has served over 3,600 students from 16 middle schools and three high schools in Philadelphia. In addition, the Science Center has engaged 170 mentors from over 50 science and technology companies based in uCity Square and across the non-profit’s network to help facilitate the industry-informed programming.

About the Science Center
The University City Science Center is Philadelphia’s premier catalyst of entrepreneurial activity, healthcare innovation, and economic growth. Established in 1963, the nonprofit has been recognized by The Brookings Institution as a best-in-class investor, mentor, and economic development partner for young technology companies. Working alongside industry partners and leading research and academic institutions across the globe, the Science Center has supported over 1,000 early-stage companies. Today, the organization advances healthcare innovation from idea to the marketplace through startup support services, allocating capital, gathering the innovation community, and building inclusive STEM pathways for Philadelphia youth and adults. For more information visit sciencecenter.org or follow us at @UCScienceCenter.

Media Contact:

Kristen Fitch

Kristen Fitch

Senior Director, Marketing