WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is highlighting private-sector efforts to encourage more students from underrepresented groups to pursue education in science, technology, engineering and math.
At the White House Science Fair on Monday, Obama announced more than $240 million in pledges to boost the study of those fields, known as STEM. This year's fair is focused on diversity.
Obama said the new commitments have brought total financial and material support for these programs to $1 billion.
"It's not enough for our country just to be proud of you. We've got to support you," Obama said.
The pledges the president announced include a $150 million philanthropic effort to encourage promising early-career scientists to stay on track and a $90 million campaign to expand STEM opportunities to underrepresented youth, such as minorities and girls.
More than 100 colleges and universities have committed to training 20,000 engineers. A coalition of CEOs also has promised to expand high-quality STEM education programs to an additional 1.5 million students this year.
Obama launched "Educate to Innovate," his effort to encourage the study of science, technology, engineering and math, in 2009.
More than 35 student teams showed their projects at the White House Science Fair, including exhibits on algae, spinal implants, keystroke security and a page turner made out of Legos.
Obama said the fair is one of the most fun events held annually at the White House. "Every year I walk out smarter than when I walked in," Obama said.