Alexandria, VA – NASA’s funding for educational programs is planned to increase by $100 million over the next five years to fund several new initiatives, including President Obama’s recently announced “Summer of Innovation” grants to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. NASA will also be expanding partnerships to find new ways to inspire the next generation of space explorers.

Under the President’s budget request released today, NASA’s investment in education will increase from a projected annual level of approximately $126 million to $146 million per year over the next five years. That is an increase of $100 million over that period when compared to last year’s projections. Overall, President Obama’s FY 2011 STEM education budget is $3.7 billion dollars across multiple agencies including NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education, among others.

“We are absolutely committed to inspiring young people. We want to ignite their passion for science and math, technology and engineering, professions that are critical now and will only grow more important in the future,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

“We are very pleased to see NASA’s commitment to this educational mission through its increased funding for education and outreach, and thank President Obama and NASA Administrator Bolden for their foresight and concern for inspiring the next generation of explorers,” said Challenger Center President Dan Barstow.

“In order to achieve this new vision we need a vigorous STEM education program. NASA has always excelled in its inspirational power to excite kids about the future they will create and inhabit. This investment will reap its benefits many fold over the next decade and beyond,” continued Barstow.

Founding Chairman of Challenger Center, Dr. June Scobee Rodgers said “Our Challenger Learning Centers (including an ex officio center on the International Space Station!) have become a powerful force for change in our nation’s education. With nearly 50 Challenger Learning Centers across the United States, we reach more than 400,000 students and 40,000 teachers per year with educational experiences that transform lives and enrich our nation’s educational programs”.

The following people are available for interviews to discuss today’s announcement and the importance of STEM education:

– Dan Barstow, Challenger Center President
– Bill Readdy, Chair of the Board, former NASA astronaut
– Dr. Scott Parazynski, Chair-Elect, former NASA astronaut
– Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, Founding Chairman

About Challenger Center

Using space exploration as a theme and simulations as a vehicle, Challenger Center and its international network of 47 Challenger Learning Centers create positive educational experiences that raise students’ expectations of success, fosters a long-term interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and inspires students to pursue studies and careers in these areas. Challenger Center’s network of Challenger Learning Centers across the United States and in Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Korea reach more than 400,000 students each year through simulated space missions and educational programs, and engage over 40,000 educators through missions, teacher workshops and other programs. To learn more about Challenger Center for Space Science Education, visit

Contact: Rob Cork
Director of Communications
Challenger Center for Space Science Education
300 N. Lee Street, Suite 301
Alexandria, VA 22314