NH Coalition for Business & Education Backs 5 Education Initiatives

July 18, 2013 – Concord, NH – A diverse group of New Hampshire business, education and public policy leaders has endorsed two education initiatives, and agreed to consider future endorsement of three additional initiatives at its meeting in Concord on Monday. Launched earlier this year as the NH Coalition for Business & Education, the group agreed to endorse a $500,000 STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) scholarship program in New Hampshire, and to also endorse the New Hampshire Scholars Program, which is currently in 64 New Hampshire high schools.

The Coalition is initially supportive of three additional initiatives in their early stages, with future endorsements based on completed presentations at a future meeting. The Coalition will work with the Community College System on a concept to bring educators and employers together to meet future labor market needs. The Coalition will also work with a group of private business leaders on a unique proposal to attract high school students to pursue computer science degrees at UNH Manchester. And, the Coalition is encouraged by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s exploration of a STEM inventory throughout the State.

A STEM Scholarship Program by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation would increase funding for students entering the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math). This initiative was generated in large part by the growth of businesses in New Hampshire that rely on workers skilled in these fields. The Charitable Foundation will dedicate $500,000 to STEM scholarships in 2013, and is also exploring ways to expand this work, including an inventory of STEM efforts across the State, and identifying opportunities to collaborate and do more. The Coalition endorses the scholarship initiative, and supports the Foundation’s exploration of a STEM inventory as outlined by Foundation President, Richard Ober.

The New Hampshire Scholars Program, which started in 2007 in New Hampshire, has become part of the education infrastructure in 64 New Hampshire high schools and offers students the opportunity to engage in more rigorous course work in preparation for college, and to earn recognition for that achievement. Some 300 New Hampshire businesses and communities have become partners with the Program. The Coalition supports a Program request by Director Scott Power to the New Hampshire Department of Education for financial support.

To date, the State Scholars Program has seen 10,728 New Hampshire high school students successfully graduate from the Program. This year alone, 3,600 students graduated as NH Scholars.

A Learning Exchange Concept from New Hampshire Community College Chancellor, Ross Gittell, was presented to the Coalition. The Learning Exchange would engage educators and employers in building a system of career pathways that are aligned with current and future labor market needs. The concept is a positive development for New Hampshire, and was received favorably by Coalition members, some of whom will work with Chancellor Gittell to develop the concept.

A Computer Science Proposal by NH High Technology Council Board Member, Matt Pierson, would attract interested high school students to pursue computer science degrees at the University of New Hampshire Manchester. Pierson and a group of NH business leaders are working closely with UNHM Dean, Ali Rafieymehr, and UNHM faculty to develop the program which they hope to launch in 2014. The Coalition supports the concept, and will consider a final proposal at a future meeting.

Coalition Chair, Tom Raffio, Pres. and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, calls the Coalition’s work “important for the future of education in New Hampshire.”

The NH Coalition for Business and Education is a group of NH leaders representing business, education and public policy with a mission to serve as a sounding board for good ideas to improve education in New Hampshire, and then to advocate for those ideas and programs that show promise. The Coalition is independent and non-profit, with the NH Charitable Foundation serving as fiscal agent.