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Facility is one of 12 nationwide selected for equity project funds for rural communities with sizable Latino populations

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF MOUNT ANGEL - The Mount Angel Public Library was one of 12 libraries in the nation to receive the STAR Net STEAM Equity Project grant, which provides $15,000 over four years to offer STEAM material to its bilingual community.The Mount Angel Public Library concluded 2020 with excitement after announcing on Dec. 21 that it had been selected for an exclusive grant provided to just a handful of libraries nationwide.

The Star Net STEAM Equity Project will provide the library with $15,000 over a four-year period to purchase bilingual learning materials in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The project, designed specifically for libraries in rural communities with sizable Latino populations, caters to the communities' diverse demographics among its student body.

COURTESY PHOTO: JACKIE MILLS - Mount Angel Library Director Jackie Mills, right, seen here with Caesar the llama in 2019, said the library will work with the school district to provide family science nights, educational games, traveling STEAM exhibitions and more."We are so proud to be the only Oregon library chosen through a competitive application process for this amazing opportunity," Library Director Jackie Mills said. "I think kids and adults alike will see that science, technology, engineering and math are more than school subjects — they offer ways to approach our personal and community needs and inspire creativity, collaboration and the curiosity to learn more."

The funding will allow Mills and the library to offer special programs, educational products and exhibitions aimed at empowering children from elementary through high school, along with their families, with STEAM learning and career paths by building off their existing strengths, interests and diverse cultures.

According to the 2010 census, Mount Angel's Latino or Hispanic population accounted for 26.1% of the community, but that number nearly doubles to 47.96% of the student body at the Mount Angel School District, according to the 2017-19 MASD EL Plan published in February 2018, more than any other demographic in the school district.

Mills said the library will be working with the school district to help bring the STEAM Equity Project to the student body.

"We're delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with Mt. Angel Middle School, St. Mary Catholic Church and Marion County 4-H to launch a series of fun STEAM learning opportunities," Mills said. "We will be working together to encourage participation by community members who are underrepresented in STEM fields, especially our Hispanic families and individuals, and women and girls."

Over the four-year project, the grant will allow the library to buy STEAM learning materials and offer programs, such as Family Science Nights, especially to meet the needs and interests of tweens and their families. Other highlights will include:

• STEAM Kits, complete with educational games and tools, for collaborators to bring learning opportunities to their clubs, events and other outreach

• A new STEAM Exploration Space where patrons can learn and play

• Three traveling STEAM exhibitions, in both Spanish and English, with games, design challenges and interactives for youth and families.

The STAR Net STEAM Equity Project is offered by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute (NCIL/SSI), the American Library Association (ALA), Twin Cities PBS (TPT), Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI), and Education Development Center (EDC), with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).


The library is part of a 17-library cooperative called Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library System (CCRLS). Mount Angel Public Library's collection contains over 35,000 books, including large print, children's materials, magazines and a Spanish language collection, as well as over 2000 audiovisual items, including DVDs, audiobooks and music CDs.

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