President Obama Launches Change the Equation

Announcement at White House Aims to Support Educate to Innovate and Increase Competitiveness of U.S. Workforce

Contact: Jennifer Mastin Giglio -- 202-729-4248

WASHINGTON, DC, September 16, 2010 – President Obama will announce today the launch of Change the Equation (CTEq), a CEO-led initiative to cultivate widespread literacy in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  CTEq will not only achieve the President’s Educate to Innovate campaign mission to increase private and philanthropic involvement in STEM education, but also will meet a critical need to build a U.S. workforce and a citizenry fluent in science and math.

"Our success as a nation depends on strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation," said President Obama.  "I applaud Change the Equation for lending their resources, expertise, and their enthusiasm to the task of strengthening America’s leadership in the 21st century by improving education in science, technology, engineering and math."

Change the Equation is bringing together top companies across multiple sectors, all of which are dedicated to preparing students for STEM-related careers as an investment in their business, the economy and our democracy.  Through innovative and effective company-led programs, Change the Equation aims to fill the opportunity gap with capable and enthusiastic STEM-literate young people.  It is the first and only STEM education group that brings so many corporate leaders together in collaboration with the White House, State Houses nationwide, as well as the education and foundation communities. 

According to a report by the Center on Education and the Workforce, there will be eight million jobs available in STEM-related fields by 2018.  However, the report also indicates that the next generation of employees in America will be unprepared and unqualified to take advantage of these positions.

America’s problem with math--which is the entry point into science, technology and engineering--is not solely rooted in academic skill.  It may be indicative of a deeper cultural norm. According to a survey commissioned by CTEq, nearly three in ten adults believe they are not good at math.  The problem is especially acute in younger Americans.  More than half of Americans aged 18 to 36 admit that they often find themselves saying they can't do math.  Americans' attitudes toward math were so negative that thirty percent would prefer cleaning the bathroom to doing a math problem.

“‘I can’t do math has become an iconic excuse in our society,” said Linda Rosen, Chief Executive Officer of CTEq.  “Many Americans have expressed it, but I don’t believe it’s an accurate reflection of who we are, or, more importantly, what we can do.”

Rosen continued, “If we don’t encourage our children and students to get excited about math as well as science, technology and engineering, we are denying them the chance to reach their potential and be prepared for a future filled with opportunity.”

To date, 100 companies have joined the effort, including founding members Intel, Kodak, Sally Ride Science, Time Warner Cable and Xerox. ExxonMobil has joined the founding members on the Board of Directors.  Each company has committed its best thinking and resources to create innovative and effective STEM education programs, while constantly challenging itself to share and replicate best practices.

Rosen announced that CTEq will establish a set of criteria that guides the organization and its member companies in defining program success.  “It has been said that conscience is a person’s compass,” Rosen said.  “CTEq can and will fuel the nation’s conscience on STEM education.   We will monitor our own progress and the progress of others, identifying what is working and what isn't.  CTEq will apply lessons we learn so that the nation continues to move towards a future where every American is literate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics."

CTEq has an ambitious agenda for its first year, including creating a snapshot of existing STEM investments by its 100 member companies to establish a baseline of STEM programs, and creating a state-by-state scorecard to assess the condition of STEM education in all 50 states.  The organization also will create a self-evaluation mechanism for member companies to measure the effectiveness of their STEM programs.  In addition, it will launch an ambitious plan to initiate a core set of very effective programs in 100 new sites across the country to broaden the philanthropic reach of CTEq members. 

CTEq evolved as a result of the first Educate to Innovate event in November 2009, when President Obama named five leading business and thought leaders (Sally Ride, Craig Barrett, Ursula Burns, Glenn Britt, and Antonio Perez) to head an effort to improve American student participation and performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Gates Foundation generously provided challenge grants to launch the organization.  

CTEq’s goals are to:

  1. Improve STEM teaching at all grade levels, with a larger and more racially, ethnically and gender-diverse pool of highly-capable STEM teachers.
  2. Deepen student appreciation and excitement for STEM programs and careers to increase enrollment and success, especially among females and students of color.
  3. Achieve a sustained commitment to the STEM movement from business leaders, government officials, STEM teachers and other stakeholders through communication, collaboration and data-based decision making.

About Change the Equation

Change the Equation (CTEq) is a non-profit organization whose 100 member companies from across industry sectors are dedicated to promoting innovation and investment in STEM teaching and learning. CTEq aims to give STEM education a central place in the national lexicon of excellence and achievement, establishing a national movement to support, promote and implement excellent STEM education for every child.