GAR announces funding for STEM High School


When Akron Public Schools opens its first STEM High School this fall in the former Central-Hower High School building, it will be through its continuing partnership with The University of Akron and other public and private sector organizations.

This community-based collaboration was pioneered with the Akron Public Schools’ STEM Middle School, which opened in 2010 at the National Inventors Hall of Fame®. UA administrators and faculty, now as then, are involved in every phase of the planning — from curriculum development to technology to grant writing to research. College of Education faculty and students will be teaching at the new high school as well. In fact, the new STEM High School will be the second official site of a professional development school in which UA has been involved.

Further aiding this initiative is an $800,000 commitment from the GAR Foundation, which was announced on Feb. 23.

Community challenged to support initiative

The GAR is providing a $150,000 award immediately and challenging the community to match its commitment to STEM education through a $650,000 challenge grant. For each dollar offered by GAR, the community must provide two dollars in matching support. GAR will provide the full $650,000 if the community provides $1.2 million by Dec. 1, 2014.

"In 2008, GAR generously provided more than $1 million to launch STEM education in Akron with the formation of our STEM middle school at the National Inventors Hall of Fame®," said David W. James, superintendent of Akron Public Schools. "Our STEM middle school students are now ready to advance in their education in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine. GAR and community support will produce the next generation of Akron inventors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders."

"GAR Foundation has witnessed the amazing outcomes of APS' STEM middle school program and sees continued success of this model as a community imperative. We have challenged the entire community to step forward in support of the STEM High School, with special hope for a strong response from Akron's corporate citizens who can view the STEM High School as the training ground for their future workforce," said Christine Amer Mayer, president of GAR Foundation.

STEM = more motivated students

In announcing the GAR award and challenge grant, James also released the results of a University of Chicago study confirming that the APS STEM middle school program is more effective in motivating both students and faculty toward higher achievement than most other programs around the country. The researchers gathered data from students, teachers and school leaders to determine their levels of enthusiasm and engagement, as compared to their peers at other STEM schools around the country. They found:

  • higher ratings of engagement among students in cognitively demanding work
  • higher ratings of student decision-making in the classroom
  • high levels of trust and respect
  • very high ratings by teachers of school innovativeness
  • high ratings of school effectiveness

"When the students in the STEM middle school and new high school excel, they can take full advantage of the opportunities awaiting them in college and in their careers," said Mike Sherman, senior vice president/provost and chief operating officer of The University of Akron. "These students represent the future of our region – where Akron Public Schools graduates are highly sought after by colleges and universities for their depth of knowledge in science and mathematics and, more importantly, where their own region supports and furthers their success."

Interview requests should be directed to the office of David W. James at 330-761-2920.

Media contact: Laura Massie, 330-972-6476 or