National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA supports STEM education for underrepresented youth

May 27, 2016

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First Lady Michelle Obama praised the 2016 graduates of Santa Fe Indian School, which has long had a close relationship with Los Alamos National Laboratory.

For nearly 20 years, the Department of Energy and NNSA have provided financial support and other resources to the Santa Fe Indian School, a day and boarding school owned and operated by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico.

Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama served as commencement speaker for the school’s 2016 graduating class, where she made special mention of the school’s science and technology prowess.

“Over the years, you all have proudly represented this school in chess tournaments, and science and robotics competitions, and every kind of internship and leadership conference imaginable,” she told the graduates. “And nearly all of you are going on to college.  And … you've earned more than $5 million in scholarships this year.  That is breathtaking – breathtaking.”

Like the First Lady’s commencement address, NNSA’s support for education of tribal youth is part of the federal commitment to advance science, technology, engineering, and math education in rural and under-represented communities. 

NNSA team members, as part of a STEM-centric organization, are especially invested in the future of students at Santa Fe Indian School. Over the past year, NNSA team members at Los Alamos National Laboratory have provided more than $36,000 in scholarships for post-secondary education, volunteered more than 675 hours toward STEM initiatives at the school, and hosted hundreds of Santa Fe Indian School students at the lab for tours, presentations, and internships.

Founded in 1890 as a federal off-reservation boarding school, the Santa Fe Indian School enrolls students from federally recognized tribes across the country.  As part of the Santa Fe Indian School Act, the school builds its curriculum based on educational sovereignty – the right and responsibility to educate New Mexico Indian children in a manner that supports American Indian culture and traditional belief systems.

As a whole, DOE and NNSA have provided financial support and other resources, including internships and teacher training, to the school’s Community Based Education program for two decades. The program engages surrounding Pueblo communities as equal partners with the school in the education of their children.

Learn more about the White House STEM initiative for tribal and underrepresented youth, and read how DOE and NNSA are taking part.