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News Release 98-062

NSF Approves Multi-Million-Dollar Awards for Texas and Navajo Rural Schools

October 5, 1998

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The Navajo Nation and West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) each were named this week to receive a five-year, $10-million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to initiate system-wide reform of K-12 mathematics, science and technology education for rural school children.

Both WTAMU and the Navajo Nation are adopting comprehensive plans to benefit students by improving curricula, teacher professional development, instruction, student evaluation and parental support. Some 250,000 Texas students will be affected as will 70,000 Navajo children, 60,000 of whom live in poverty.

"Since 25 percent of American students attend rural schools and one-third of American schools are located in rural areas, this is an essential pool of future mathematicians, scientists and engineers," said Luther S. Williams, NSF's assistant director for education and human resources.

"The addition of Texas and the Navajo Nation to the growing list of rural public school systems that have chosen to undertake the challenge of reform is one more step forward in NSF's continuing effort to focus on education for students in rural, economically disadvantaged regions of the nation, particularly those that have been underserved by NSF programs," he said.

The Navajo Rural Systemic Initiative (RSI) will be managed by the Navajo Nation's division of education in Window Rock, Arizona. The Texas RSI grant will be managed by WTAMU in Canyon, Texas, through the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), a state research agency. WTAMU and TEES are both members of the Texas A&M University System.

The Rural Systemic Initiatives in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education was initiated in October 1995. Alaska, Appalachia, Tribal College, and UCAN (Utah/Colorado, Hopi, Pueblo, Apache and Arizona tribes) were the first to be funded. There are now seven RSIs, which share their design and purpose with NSF's Urban Systemic Initiative (USI) and the Statewide Systemic Initiative (SSI) programs in that they stimulate system-wide educational reform of science, mathematics and technology. RSI grants target vast geographic regions or areas that are geographically separated, often crossing state lines and school districts, but linked by social or cultural factors.

RSIs are tailored to address policy, leadership and workforce issues related to educational barriers. RSIs target regions that are highly rural, characterized by significant levels of poverty among their school-age children, and share common cultural, social and economic characteristics.

Other RSI goals are:

  • The improvement of science, mathematics and technology education;

  • The preparation of a technologically competent workforce to enhance the infrastructure of economic development activities within a community or region, by strengthening the science, mathematics and technology instructional capacities of regional colleges and universities;

  • The enhancement of scientific literacy and science understanding and appreciation among students and the general community; and

  • The development of community infrastructure to provide resources to sustain educational improvements.


Media Contacts
K. Lee Herring, NSF, (703) 292-8070,

Program Contacts
Lura (Jody) Chase, Texas RSI (NSF), (703) 292-8682,
Gerald Gipp, Navajo Nation RSI, (703) 292-8684,

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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