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Battelle to Contribute 1.2M to New Tri-Cities STEM School

Posted on Jan 13, 2009


RICHLAND, WA. 13 January, 2009—Battelle will invest $1.2 million to support operations and start-up costs for a proposed new Tri-Cities public high school that will emphasize science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM.

The gift, along with other public and private resource commitments by the Tri-Cities community, provides sufficient operating funds to cover a four-year start-up period, a requirement set by local school boards. 

The $1.2 million commitment assumes the school will be able to achieve mutually agreed-to student enrollment and retention targets.  The school will also be encouraged to incorporate innovative approaches in curriculum, professional development and other programs that enhance STEM teaching and learning in the participating districts.

The announcement was made in Richland today by Rich Rosen, Battelle’s corporate vice president for education and philanthropy, and Mike Kluse, Battelle’s senior vice president and director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  Battelle has operated PNNL in Richland since the laboratory’s inception in 1965.

Receiving the gift will be the Washington State STEM Education Foundation, an organization established last fall to raise the funds needed to start the school and ultimately construct a permanent facility.

School organizers said the school needed about $8.2 million in cash or in-kind donations to open the school next fall and operate it for four years, when it should be self-sustaining.

About $6.2 million has been committed in cash and in-kind donations so far.  A critical piece of the funding is $800,000 that is included in Washington Governor Christine Gregoire’s proposed supplemental capital budget that goes to the state legislature later this month to cover essential building renovations.  Battelle’s commitment, announced today, covers the remaining $1.2 million needed to fund start-up and operations costs.  

The new school—scheduled to open at Columbia Basin College’s Richland campus as early as next fall—will be one of the first STEM high schools in Washington.  STEM education is designed to build critical thinking skills across disciplines, prepare students for post-secondary science and math studies, and help communities and the nation stay competitive in a global economy.  The innovative school will target students of diverse backgrounds—students of all academic levels and interests.

“The nation’s future depends on how well we solve problems such as climate change, energy independence, high health care costs, and other challenges,” Rosen said in making the announcement.

“STEM literacy, with its emphasis on real-world problem-solving, gives students the intellectual as well as the technical foundation they need to make sense of the world around them, and then improve it.”

Jeff Wadsworth, Battelle’s President and CEO, said, “Improving education is one of Battelle’s founding purposes.  It’s in our DNA.  As a business based on scientific discovery and application, we have a keen interest in vigorously promoting STEM education.”

“Science literacy creates the next generation of scientists and engineers, and serves as a precursor to feeding the nation’s ‘innovation pipeline’,” said Wadsworth.  “In fact, science literacy is also needed by everyone who lives in today’s technological world.  The STEM curriculum and program of study provides a strong academic foundation to solve complex problems relevant to any career choice a student might make.”

Founding sponsors of the Tri-Cities school include the Kennewick, Pasco and Richland school districts; Battelle, and Washington State University Tri-Cities.  Columbia Basin College joined the partnership this past summer and offered the school space in its Richland campus until a permanent facility is built in north Richland.  The sponsors will take a proposal to open the school next fall to a joint meeting of the three school boards tomorrow night.

Ultimately, the proposed Tri-Cities school will serve 400 students—roughly 100 per grade in grades 9 through 12—from the Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland school districts.  The school will enroll about 100 ninth grade students the first year, and add one grade per year until it’s a full, four-year high school.

About $4.8 million in state and district funding will follow students from their home school districts to cover operations costs, and another $700,000 in cash or in-kind services has been provided by local businesses and individuals.  

Additional funding has come from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, while CBC has agreed to allow use of its campus rent-free, a $500,000 value.

Coordinating the funding efforts is the Washington State STEM Education Foundation, which was established this fall to support the STEM school in many ways including raising the funds needed to renovate the CBC facility and construct a permanent facility.  The foundation is comprised of leaders from the Tri-Cities technology business sector.

“A highly collaborative enterprise of like-minded organizations and individuals is paving the way for the Tri-Cities to be known as a leader in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education,” Rosen said.  “The hard work and vision displayed by the Washington State STEM Education Foundation and the community were critical to both Battelle’s gift and making the school a reality.”

“Since the idea of a STEM high school was first discussed, Battelle has said it stood ready to make sure the school is launched successfully but also assure it can operate on its own in the long run,” said Kluse.  “Battelle’s initial contributions—including the staff and planning money it has provided to date and the $1.2 million commitment to close the operating gap—have helped the project at critical phases.

“Likewise, when the focus of the project turns to securing the funding for the long-term facility and expanding its impact across the three school district region, Battelle will work with the founders to help secure additional public and private investors,” Kluse added.

The Tri-Cities school will be the third STEM school project for Battelle.  In 2006, Battelle, Ohio State University, and several central Ohio school districts openedMetro School, a STEM school in Columbus, Ohio.  The success of Metro School led, in part, to the creation of the Ohio STEM Learning Network, supporting the creation of eight regional STEM-based public schools targeting low income and minority students throughout Ohio over the next two years.  The network is supported in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

About Battelle

As the world’s largest independent research and development organization, Battelle provides innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing needs through its four global businesses:  Laboratory Management; National Security; Health and Life Sciences; and Energy, Environment and Material Sciences. It advances scientific discovery and application by conducting $6.2 billion in global R&D annually through contract research, laboratory management and technology commercialization. 

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle oversees 22,000 employees in more than 130 locations worldwide, including eight national laboratories for which Battelle has a significant management role on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the United Kingdom.

Battelle also is one of the nation’s leading charitable trusts focusing on societal and economic impact and actively supporting and promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

Media Contacts

For more information contact Katy Delaney at (614) 424-7208 or, or T.R. Massey at (614) 424-5544 or


Media Contacts

Katy Delaney
Director, Media Relations
Office: 1.614.424.7208

T.R. Massey

Senior Media Specialist
Office: 1.614.424.5544