FLEMINGTON, NJ – The HSMC Tri-County STEM Consortium has been selected to join the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice (SLECoP).

The group represents Hunterdon, Somerset and Mercer counties, and is one of just 15 new ecosystems selected to join the global movement devoted to improving how students learn.

The 15 ecosystems joining the SLECoP bring the number to 85 total, with most in the United States but also extending to Canada, Mexico, Israel and Kenya. New ecosystems to join the SLECoP range from the entire states of Iowa, Texas, South Carolina and West Virginia to regions like Biloxi, Mississippi; Broward County, Florida; Central Massachusetts; and Lincoln, Nebraska.

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The Ecosystems are an initiative organized by the STEM Funders Network to promote science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM). It seeks collaborations – often among “unlikely partners” – to offer cross-sector learning. Partners can include out of school programs; institutions such as museums, science centers, institutions of higher education; STEM professional associations; private sector, community-based organizations; and  youth and families.

The selection is a win for Flemington-Raritan School District Superintendent Kari McGann. She’s the Lead STEM Fellow for New Jersey, and filed the application on behalf of the group’s partners.

McGann will serve as director of the Consortium. Members of the group include the Greater Raritan Workforce Development Board serving Hunterdon and Somerset Counties; Barnes & Noble; Flemington Council; the Flemington-Raritan Education Foundation; the Flemington-Raritan Board of Education; the Hunterdon Central High School Robotics Team; Hunterdon County Executive Superintendent Juan Torres; state Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont O. Repollet; the Hunterdon County YMCA; Somerset County Vocational and Technical Schools; superintendents from throughout Hunterdon, Mercer, and Somerset counties; the Watershed Institute; the Great Swamp; and the Somerset County Park Commission.

Early plans for the HSMC Tri-County STEM are a celebration of the new ecosystem and a convening with all partners to be held in May.  Visit the website for more information and an invitation.

“This was an incredibly competitive process, and we were only able to admit ecosystems who would be capable of making immediate contributions to our thriving community of practice,” said Jan Morrison, President and Founding Partner of TIES, the organization that operates the SLECoP, in a press release. “The ecosystems that we selected now have pulled together diverse partners who no longer accept the status quo in education; they want to see that all students access high quality STEM education that will prepare them for life and work in the next century.”

Forming STEM ecosystems was listed as the number one priority for STEM education in a December 2018 report by the Federal Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“Hunterdon, Somerset, and Mercer counties are making great strides to offer the recommended rich, meaningful STEM education and experiences to our youth,” said McGann. “As a recognized STEM Learning Ecosystem, we can tailor quality STEM learning opportunities to our specific needs in Flemington and throughout Hunterdon, Mercer, and Somerset counties while leveraging the experiences of similar alliances across the world.” 

“It’s exciting to see that Central Jersey will be part of the expanding New Jersey STEM Pathways Network,” said Paul Grzella, Interim Director of the Greater Raritan Workforce Development Board, in a statement. “The Workforce Development Board’s aim is to ensure that training efforts in the two counties lead to pathways that create sustainable careers, and STEM initiatives align with our mission.” Grzella said.

“Collaborative partnerships like this new initiative will help ensure that employers in Hunterdon and Somerset counties have the smart, innovative and nimble workforce they will need for their local, national and international success,” Grzella said.