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NJ STEM Pathways Network
Program Information

The New Jersey STEM Pathways Network (NJ SPN), initiated by the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education in 2014, invites proposals from cities, communities, and regions across New Jersey to create integrated, inclusive, partnership-driven STEM Learning Ecosystems within their communities that will strengthen New Jersey’s STEM climate statewide.

The NJ SPN seeks to support up to four local ecosystems in the form of comprehensive technical assistance, valued at $60,000. Competitive applicants will demonstrate the resources and design to engage with local and regional partners in education, business and industry, and STEM professions to create viable and sustainable STEM opportunities across the state of New Jersey. It is the intent of this program that the four ecosystems selected will be integrated into the statewide NJ SPN, which will in turn participate in a nationwide STEM ecosystem Community of Practice headed by the STEM Funders Network. Through this local, state, and nationwide network of ecosystems, the NJ SPN will promote inclusion and cohesion between STEM initiatives across New Jersey.

Technical assistance for selected communities will be provided by The Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES). Driven by the engineering design process, TIES’s technical assistance helps community leaders design and implement their STEM ecosystem with provision for long-term sustainability. As the technical assistance lead for the STEM Funders Network Learning Ecosystems Initiative, TIES provides this guidance to 37 STEM ecosystems across the country.

Application Details
  • Applicant Summary
  • Background and Narrative
  • Self-Assessment (at least four)
  • Key Leadership/Partner Form
  • Letters of Support (at least three)
  • Sustainability Plan
  • Grant Budget


Announcement of the communities selected will follow this timeline:

  • Wednesday, July 27 – September 9, 2016: RFQ application is available. Complete/submit the application via the online form.

  • Monday, August 1 9AM-10:30AM EST: Webinar offering technical assistance for potential applicants. Webinar Registration

  • New Tuesday, August 16  10AM-11:30AM EST: Repeat of first webinar information offering technical assistance for potential applicants. Facilitators will present the information live and will be available to answer questions. Webinar Registration  
  • Thursday, September 29, 2016: Announcement of selected communities.

The selected communities will receive the following services:
  • Asset mapping: TIES will distribute a survey to a range of stakeholders aimed at determining the STEM landscape, tailored to and informed by each community’s specific needs.
  • Stakeholder dialogues: TIES will host focus groups with stakeholders to further determine each community’s STEM climate and various stakeholders’ level of investment in the ecosystem project.
  • Three design studios: All communities will participate in Innovation by Design and Collaborative Investment by Design, as well as a third design studio chosen based on the community’s individual needs.
  • Design Blueprint: Each community will receive an implementation-ready Design Blueprint informed by the work up to that point. The Design Blueprint defines a path for each ecosystem to join the NJ SPN and contribute their STEM resources on a statewide level.
It is the intent of this program that the selected ecosystems will grow to serve as models for additional New Jersey communities to follow in the future.

About the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network
The NJ STEM Pathways Network (NJ SPN) was initiated by the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education in 2014 as a public-private strategic alliance established to inform the alignment of STEM resources, support an education-to-workforce STEM pipeline, identify exemplary formal and informal learning opportunities, and promote STEM career pathway awareness. The NJ SPN has been recognized by New Jersey governance as a key initiative in fostering integration between the state’s 200+ STEM initiatives and is enthusiastically supported by Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. The NJ SPN is chaired by Laura Overdeck, Founder and President of Bedtime Math and Chair of the Overdeck Family Foundation. This technical assistance opportunity valued at $60,000 per community, provided by the Overdeck Family Foundation, will be a means to create such integration between existing STEM resources in New Jersey and to foster a unified vision to cultivate a STEM-driven workforce for the next generation.

The STEM Funders Network Learning Ecosystems Initiative
This funding opportunity is modeled after the The STEM Funders Network STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative, which is designed to promote the cultivation of STEM Learning Ecosystems in communities throughout the country. Its purpose is to bring together STEM Learning Ecosystems across the nation to contribute to the larger STEM education and learning landscape. In its first round of funding in 2015, the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative selected 27 local, regional and state STEM Learning Ecosystems from a nationwide pool of applicants to create an initial Community of Practice. In the second year of funding in 2016, 10 additional sites were added, bringing the total to 37 ecosystems with the goal of reaching 100 in the next five years. Each of the 37 ecosystems participates in a Community of Practice, a national and regional peer-to-peer professional learning network for communities to share information and expertise. Agenda for the Community of Practice is determined by ecosystem sites, and focus points range from connections to the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, to assessing and evaluating STEM Learning Ecosystems, to developing and honing strategic approaches and foundational principles of an ecosystem cultivation approach. More information about the STEM Funders Network and its 37 ecosystems can be found at

The STEM Learning Ecosystem Model
Each STEM Learning Ecosystem is unique in design, theory and practice. The goal of ecosystem cultivation is not to design the same STEM experience for all young people, but to maximize, grow and connect STEM learning opportunities so all young people have access to robust and connected learning experiences along pathways that are individualized according to their own interests. Cultivating ecosystems requires dynamic leadership and diverse partners who share respect for each other’s roles across sectors.

Communities that cultivate a STEM Learning Ecosystem develop a shared vision and assess the strengths and gaps of their efforts to reach that vision. Educators, whether K-12 teachers, after-school staff, or experts in informal STEM institutions, work across settings to increase their individual efficacy, while at the same time deepening understanding and respect of the role of educators in other settings. Effective practices are shared across settings, while innovative program models are flexibly adapted to solve entrenched STEM learning challenges. Cross-sector professional development opportunities and communities of practice improve pedagogy and build knowledge among educators across settings. In a STEM Learning Ecosystem, young people’s experiences could connect horizontally across formal and informal settings at each age, and scaffold vertically as they build on each other to become deeper and more complex over time. To learn more about Ecosystem design principles, visit

Please click on the links below to apply for the program or to access more information.

New Jersey STEM Learning Ecosystem Request for Qualifications (RFQ) Adobe PDF kb)
This document includes an overview and instructions of the requirements to submit an RFQ for the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network: Community STEM Ecosystem Development Initiative.

NJ STEM Ecosystem FAQs Adobe PDF kb)
This document includes frequently asked questions about the STEM Learning Ecosystems.

NJ Survey for RFQ Adobe PDF kb)
This is the official form and full application to apply for the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network: Community STEM Ecosystem Development Initiative.

NJ Survey Self Assessment Adobe PDF kb)
This is the Self-Assessment applicants are required to submit as a part of the application process. A hard copy version is included in the New Jersey STEM Learning Ecosystem Request for Qualifications (RFQ).

NJ Evaluator Survey Adobe PDF kb)
The Evaluator Survey is the rubric that will be used to select up to four (4) New Jersey STEM Ecosystems as part of the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network: Community STEM Ecosystem Development Initiative.

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