NOAA-21st Century Community Learning Centers Watershed STEM Education Partnership Grants

NOAA-21st Century Community Learning Centers Watershed STEM Education Partnership Grants

Diving into eeBLUE: NAAEE Partnered with NOAA to Offer Watershed STEM Education Grants

NAAEE, in partnership with NOAA and funded by the U.S. Department of Education, awarded $2.45 million to 30 environmental education organizations that partner with NOAA to provide enriching after-school watershed-related STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) projects.

The Watershed STEM Education Partnership Grants, administered by NAAEE and running from 2020–2022, allowed environmental education organizations to collaborate directly with the 21st CCLC sites on the design and implementation of locally relevant, out-of-school-time programs that develop students’ environmental literacy and leadership skills as they improve their communities. 

These grants supported programming for a total of 100 local Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) sites and their students, many of whom live in high-poverty and underserved areas. The 30 selected projects served 18 states, ranging from Alaska to Florida.

Program Outcomes
  • Students learned about STEM while also building leadership and advocacy skills by participating in exciting hands-on learning activities and connecting to nature. All Watershed STEM Grantees and partners adapted to meet the needs of the students according to current health and safety guidelines. Please note that proposals were submitted prior to COVID-19.
  • Watershed STEM grantees offered virtual professional development opportunities and planning with partners to ensure that their projects were tailored to evolving partner and community needs. 
  • Staff also gained from the partnership, strengthening both environmental literacy and teaching skills. Watershed STEM grantees and 21st CCLC partners delivered authentic STEM experiences that used components of the NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) model along with other NOAA assets and expertise. 


Young female with a clipboard speaking to an adult female on a beach

Program Evaluation Report

Read the overarching findings from the evaluation of the 2020–2022 NOAA 21st CCLC Watershed STEM Education Partnership grants program and considerations for future programs. This report was produced by the Education Development Center (EDC). For the full report, contact T'Noya Thompson at

Learn more about the EDC's culturally responsive evaluation of the eeBLUE Watershed STEM Education Partnership Grants Program in "A Promising Approach to Building Youth's Environmental Literacy," published on the EDC website.


eeBLUE 21CCLC STEM Grantee Program Evaluation Infographics

eeBLUE 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) Suggestions for Success infographic
eeBLUE Environmental Education Organization (EEO) Suggestions for Success
eeBLUE What Worked, According to Environmental Education Organizations (EEOs)
eeBLUE 21stCCLC Infographic: Environmental Education Organizations (EEOs) Feedback on Working with 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) Sites
eeBLUE Covid19 Related Challenges with Watershed STEM Partnerships

Meet the eeBLUE Watershed STEM Grantees


sea turtle

View the full list of grantees and see where they are working. Follow the Watershed Chronicles blog series to hear how the grantees implemented their projects, adapted to challenges, and worked collaboratively toward a blue planet. 

Check out more in-depth grantee spotlights below.


Two students sit outside painting.

Boxerwood Education Association, Virginia


a group of students in blue t-shirts posing for a photo on a beach

Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida


drawings of watersheds on table in front of students

Stanislaus County Office of Education, California

eeBLUE Grant in Action—Virginia

Located in mountainous western Virginia, Boxerwood Education Association has partnered with three rural school divisions connecting students with watershed STEM education through the eeBLUE grant program of NOAA and NAAEE.

eeBLUE Grant in Action—California

Jose Marquez, project coordinator at the Stanislaus County Office of Education, shares the value and joy of giving students opportunities for hands-on experience with their local watersheds during a visit to Natural Bridges State Beach.

eeBLUE Grant in Action—Texas

Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Galveston Bay Foundation, Artist Boat, and Pasadena ISD partner with NOAA and NAAEE to bring Watershed STEM Education to students in Texas.

What the Grantees Are Saying

Science Perspectives: Derek Esibill

In response to the social distancing mandate and in efforts to both protect our students and the places we would like to take them to engage in meaningful watershed educational experiences, the Pacific American Foundation’s Kilo Kai program is planning on using GoPro Max 360 cameras to combine still and video imagery to create an immersive experience where students can walk through an entire watershed from the ridges to the reefs. —Derek Esibill, from the Pacific American Foundation in Hawaii

Insights from the Northwest: Kelly Steffan

This opportunity to help youth learn about and discover ways to protect their watershed couldn’t come at a better time. Aside from the many health benefits of connecting to nature, both physical and mental, empowering youth to find their voice and learn ways they can help protect the watershed will have ongoing positive impacts on these local communities. —Kelly Steffan, from the Environmental Science Center in Washington