House Passes New Federal Funding to Invest in STEM Education on Olympic Peninsula

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass new federal funding to support the West Sound STEM Network’s “Empowering the Peninsula” project. 

The project aims to increase geographic equity in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) programming in the region, as well as develop K-12 and higher education partnerships with representation from underserved populations, and establish an Olympic Peninsula office. 

Rep. Kilmer says that while the initial funding is primarily set for the West Sound area, this is a need for all of the Olympic Peninsula.

The funding will help West Sound STEM move forward with hiring new staff, establish an Olympic Peninsula office, and provide funding for workshops, convenings, and industry familiarization events for underserved populations.

“When students study Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, they aren’t just learning vital skills; they are receiving the foundation that can lead to a future job. With these skills they can engineer a new airplane or boat, develop new energy technologies to combat the climate crisis, or invent new technologies that will drive the country forward,” said Rep. Kilmer. “That’s why I’m thrilled that the House has taken this important step to support the West Sound STEM Network – which is doing crucial work to advance STEM education for students in Kitsap County and across the Olympic Peninsula. I’ll keep working to get this measure signed into law so we can further support youth education in these crucial fields – which can help lead to more job opportunities for them in the future, more qualified employees for local employers, and more economic resiliency for our communities.”

“On behalf of West Sound STEM Network, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to Congressman Derek Kilmer and his team for supporting Community Funding for our region through the Labor, Health, and Human, Services, Education and Related Agencies Committee,” said Dr. Kareen Borders, Executive Director of West Sound STEM Network. “West Sound STEM Network is a partnership of K12, higher education, Tribal organizations, business, non-profits, workforce, military and more–and is deeply committed to co-creating systems so that all students have access and opportunities to career pathways, especially in rural regions. This funding will support expanded career-connected learning opportunities via an office, advisory committee, workshops, and removal of barriers for participants on the Olympic Peninsula. We will not rest, we will not tire, and we will persevere to ensure that all populations are represented in onramps to high- wage, high-demand jobs.”

West Sound STEM Network (WSSN) is a collaboration of educators, business leaders, and representatives from local government and the military, working to introduce and link students, teachers and the community to the vast array of STEM resources in Western Washington. 

WSSN is an action-oriented, public-private regional network covering the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas, that convenes, manages, and supports a cross-sector network of partners from business, school districts, higher education institutions, Career and Technical Education (CTE) practitioners and providers, government, military, community, tribes, library systems, nonprofits, out-of-school providers, and workforce development agencies. WSSN facilitates broad cross-sector coordination to ensure all youth and young adults in the region have STEM career-connected learning opportunities.

Rep. Kilmer led the effort to secure funding for the project through the House Appropriations Committee’s Community Project Funding process.

The Community Project Funding request was supported by: Bremerton School District, Brinnon School District, Central Kitsap School District, Chief Kitsap Academy, Chimacum School District, Galaxy Theatres, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Economic Development Authority, Johnson Controls Inc, Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions, Olympic College, Olympic Workforce Development Council, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Peninsula School District, Port Angeles School District, Port Townsend School District, Quilcene School District, Quileute Tribal School, Smart Building Center, Sequim School District, South Kitsap School District, Washington MESA, and Washington Workforce and Training Board (Chair Perry England).