Society receives $100,000 funding commitment for Advocate Grant Program


Washington, DC – Society for Science & the Public received a $100,000 funding commitment from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation in June to support the Society’s Advocate Grant Program. This matches the Society’s previous $100,000 funding commitment, which was designated to cover the costs of the pilot project. The Advocate Grant Program is designed to provide additional support to underrepresented and socioeconomically challenged students who have conducted scientific or engineering research projects, and encourage them to take the next step in the process by submitting their research to a scientific research competition.

The program provides a $3,000 stipend to an individual (such as a teacher, counselor, or mentor) who agrees to serve as an advocate for a group of three to five underrepresented students. The individual agrees to support the students by prompting and communicating to them about possible competitions and relevant deadlines, and supporting the gathering and writing of the required elements of an application.

Organizations selected for this pilot year reach an underserved and socio-economically challenged student population that needs additional support preparing their existing science research projects for competition. 

The Society will be distributing nearly $30,000 in advocate grants during the pilot year and will then evaluate its impact on participation rates, with the goal of expanding the advocate pool in 2016.

“We thank the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for their support of the Society’s Advocate Grant Program,” said Maya Ajmera, CEO & President of Society for Science & the Public and publisher of Science News. “As an alum of the Society’s Science Talent Search and other scientific competitions, I know the impact that applying to and participating in competitions can have on a young student. It increased my self-confidence, enhanced my public speaking abilities, and gave me great focus on my project. I believe that all students should have that opportunity. We hope that having a dedicated advocate to encourage and support these students will increase their rates of participation.”

The Society believes that ensuring more underrepresented students are a part of the science talent pipeline will ultimately lead to more career scientists from low-income populations. Completing the application process to enter a competition builds on the scientific research experience by inspiring confidence in a student’s scientific abilities, and giving them the experience of writing a scientific research paper and presenting their work to peers, scientists and the public. Many of these competitions also provide monetary awards for post-secondary education and can boost a student’s chance of acceptance into the college or university of their choice.

Pilot participants include:

  • Scott Bolen, Rockdale Magnet School for Science & Technology (Conyers, GA)
  • Jamie Lathan, North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics (Durham, NC)
  • Elmer Sanders, Project SEED (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Nadia Shapiro, Stanford RISE (Stanford, CA)
  • Nedra Starling, Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH)
  • Russ Stukel, TAMS Aspire (Denton, TX)
  • Chuanbing Tang, Project SEED (Columbia, SC)
  • Johana Zapien, Environmentors (Woodland, CA)
  • Mark Vondracek, Evanston Township High School (Evanston, IL)


About the Society:
Society for Science & the Public (Society) is one of the nation’s oldest non-profit membership organizations dedicated to public engagement in science and science education. Established in 1921, the Society is a leading advocate for the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. Through its acclaimed education competitions, including the Intel Science Talent Search, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and the Broadcom MASTERS, and its award-winning publications, Science News and Science News for Students, Society for Science & the Public is committed to inform, educate, and inspire.

For more information about the Society and its work, please visit or follow the Society on Facebook and  Twitter.


About Jack Kent Cooke Foundation:
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. By offering the largest scholarships in the country, comprehensive counseling and other support services to students from 7th grade to graduate school, the Foundation is dedicated to ensuring high-performing, low-income students have the support necessary to develop their talents and excel educationally. In addition to its scholarship programs, the Foundation provides grants for innovative, high-impact initiatives that benefit such students. By doing so, the Cooke Foundation seeks to use its resources to end the Excellence Gap, the disparity between the number of low and high income students who reach the top levels of academic performance. Founded in 2000, the Foundation has awarded $130 million in scholarships to 1,900 students and over $80 million in grants.