President Obama Announced New Commitments to STEM Education, Which Include Commitments by Wellesley, at the White House Science Fair

March 24, 2015
President Obama with girls at the 2015 White House Science Fair

Wearing red capes over their Girl Scout uniforms, a group of 6-year-old Girl Scouts from Tulsa known as the elementary-school Supergirls showed off a page-turning robot made from Lego blocks and designed for use by people with disabilities at the 2015 White House Science Fair. This year’s fair, the fifth annual, had a special focus on women and girls in STEM.

The event, which took place on Monday, also included a special announcement. President Barack Obama announced over $240 million in new STEM Commitments including a combined $90 million by partners in the “Let Everyone Dream” coalition. The coalition is a national initiative comprising multi-sector partnerships in support of STEM education for underserved students. Wellesley is a named partner.

Building on the documentary Underwater Dreams, which depicts the unlikely and inspiring story of a group of under-resourced Hispanic high school students taking on a MIT team in an underwater robotics competition, the “Let Everyone Dream” coalition was founded in response to President Obama’s charge to find new and creative ways to support STEM education in the United States. Other partners include EPIX, Televisa, 3M, MIT, CUNY, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Rockwell Automation and’s foundation, among others. This group has collectively committed more than $90 million dollars to support STEM education and opportunities for students from low income and underrepresented communities.

Wellesley has long been committed to educating women for careers in STEM fields. In fact, according to a 2013 National Science Foundation report, Wellesley ranks highest among liberal arts colleges in the number of women graduates who go on for Ph.D.s in the sciences.

The College’s current commitments, which are highlighted in this partnership, include over $20 million to support women in STEM from pre-college to graduate training. Projects include updates to the College's Science Center and greenhouses, support for faculty research, and programs that support student work in STEM fields. These efforts are made possible by the generous support of individual donors, along with recent grants by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, the Alden Trust and the Motorola Solutions Foundation, among others.

The Obama Administration also announced the launch of a series of roundtables in 2015 that will feature diverse voices in science and technology. These roundtables, according to a White House Fact Sheet, are “intended both to celebrate the work of outstanding individual contributors to science and technology and raise their visibility as role models for the next generation of students.” Wellesley will attend one such roundtable on April 7, followed by a screening of Underwater Dreams.