The EAST Initiative


"The EAST Initiative is a bright spot in our historical commitment to STEM education in Arkansas. As one of the founding funders of EAST, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation is excited by the model’s continued growth and the impact it is having on student achievement at nearly 220 schools in five states."

-- Cory Anderson, Vice President of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

Program Type

Hands on/Project-Based
Informal /Out of School

Target Audience

All Students

Teachers/Educational Leaders




Pre-K - 5
Grades 6 - 8
Grades 9 - 12

 Accomplished link

Program Impact

Since 1996, the EAST Initiative has reached more than 175,000 students with hands-on learning opportunities that have significantly improved student performance on state math and English language arts tests. In addition, the community projects EAST students undertake have had millions of dollars in economic impact in Arkansas alone.


Program Overview

Through the EAST(R) Initiative (Environmental and Spatial Technology), students use teamwork and cutting edge technology to identify and solve problems in their local communities, often in partnership with community groups.

EAST classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art workstations, servers, software and accessories, including GPS/GIS mapping tools, architectural and CAD design software, 3D animation suites, virtual reality developmen,t and more. The focus, however, is not on the technology itself, but on the unique learning environment of the EAST classroom, where students are responsible for creating their own project-based learning experience, guided by an EAST facilitator (a certified teacher trained in the EAST process). EAST aims to prepare students better for both college and the business world. In the process, it seeks to inspire students to care more about learning and serving their communities.

The EAST(R) method has been named a model by the United States Departments of Education and Labor and has research-based results. The non-profit EAST(R) Initiative works with schools and institutions across the country to establish and implement local EAST programs, equipping classrooms, training facilitators and providing technical training for students. The EAST model is grounded in solid pedagogical theory related to the use of technology as a catalyst for learning, collaborative learning, and performance-based learning. 

How To Get Involved

Companies have diverse opportunities to get engaged with EAST. It costs roughly $115,000 over two years to start EAST in a new school, but smaller grants can help strengthen or sustain the project in schools where it is already present. In addition, EAST welcomes STEM professionals as volunteers who can mentor EAST students or offer guidance on community projects.

Funders and Partners

Arkansas Department of Education


Matt Dozier

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Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.