Project Lead The Way


"Project Lead The Way has the best STEM curriculum for schools in the world. We have examined what other countries have to offer, and there is none better within the scope of my experience."

-- Dennis Parker, Toyota North America

Program Type

Curriculum/Instructional Materials
Hands on/Project-Based
College Readiness

Target Audience

All Students




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

 Ready to Scale link

Program Impact

Over the last several years, numerous reports and external organizations have validated Project Lead The Way’s success in engaging the hearts and minds of students. Studies show that students who participate in PLTW programs outperform their peers in school, are better prepared for post-secondary studies, and are more likely to consider careers in STEM-related fields than are their non-PLTW peers. 

A study from Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis found that high school graduates who participated in PLTW were three times more likely to major in a STEM field than non-PLTW graduates, and PLTW participation was significantly related to their persistence into the second year of college.

A six-year longitudinal study out of Texas State University concluded that PLTW students were more prepared for and attended Texas higher education institutions at a higher rate, and also scored higher on the state’s mathematics assessment.

PLTW’s K-12 pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science engage students at an early age, equipping them with the knowledge and transportable skills they need to thrive throughout their education and careers. In 2015-16, PLTW programs are reaching students at more than 8,000 schools across the U.S. With your partnership, PLTW can expand access to more students.


Program Overview

Project Lead The Way provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S. Through an engaging environment, PLTW empowers students to develop in-demand knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in an evolving world.

Five PLTW programs create K-12 pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science: PLTW Launch for grades K-5; PLTW Gateway for middle school; and PLTW Engineering, PLTW Computer Science, and PLTW Biomedical Science for high school. Each program teaches students to apply knowledge from a variety of subjects as they engage in hands-on activities, projects, and problems reflective of real-world scenarios and careers. In the process, students develop skills in problem-solving, critical and creative thinking, and communication and collaboration. PLTW curriculum is continuously updated and improved by a talented team of PLTW curriculum writers who work closely with teachers, post-secondary educators, and industry leaders.

Professional development is an integral part of the PLTW approach and includes a hands-on experience for each teacher who instructs a PLTW course. PLTW’s professional development model provides teachers with the support and resources they need to devote more time to the art of teaching, in turn helping them to lead the immersive and engaging PLTW experience in their classroom. Through its unique PD approach, PLTW is empowering teachers and giving them the tools they need to transform the classroom experience.

How To Get Involved

Corporations, foundations, and individuals across the country have asked PLTW to assist them in supporting their community schools, building their talent pipelines, and improving the local, state, and national economies.

One very impactful way corporations, foundations, and individuals become involved in supporting PLTW is through the PLTW School Grant Program, which leverages PLTW’s infrastructure to prepare schools for PLTW program implementation, administer competitive school grants, manage all reporting requirements, and support sustainable, quality program growth. PLTW requires no administrative fees; therefore, 100% of donated funds go directly to support schools.

Once schools implement PLTW, they are encouraged to establish local PLTW partnership teams. Partnership teams link a district or school's PLTW program to the community, local economy, and local industry needs. A strong partnership team can make the difference between a program that affects a small number of students and an outstanding program that influences the entire school district, supports workforce development, and makes an economic impact. Partnership teams advocate for PLTW programs and provide resources for the classrooms, mentors and role models for students, local relevance to the program, and guidance for teachers. 

Besides joining a partnership team, corporations and their employees can engage with PLTW programs by organizing facility tours for PLTW classes, hosting on-site student competitions, providing job shadowing or internship opportunities for students, providing externship opportunities for teachers, mentoring student project teams, judging student projects, hosting virtual student competitions, participating in career exploration interviews, and developing customized PLTW activities.

Funders and Partners

Over 100 corporations and foundations partner with PLTW to support schools. These include Chevron, Lockheed Martin, Kern Family Foundation, Autodesk, VEX Robotics, Verizon, Bemis, Cargill, The Goizueta Foundation, Toyota, John Deere, General Motors, Dow Chemical Company, SunPower, Dart Foundation, Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Lilly Endowment, Georgia-Pacific, Amgen Foundation, Leidos, and many others.

PLTW also has strategic partnerships with organizations and companies that complement PLTW’s work including, the College Board, STEM Premier, and the National Academy Foundation (NAF). Additional PLTW partners include: SkillsUSA, Technology Student Association (TSA), FIRST Robotics, and National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), US2020, and 100Kin10.

Nearly 300 universities, college, and research institutions also collaborate with PLTW by helping support the growth of PLTW programs. Of those institutions, 60 serve as PLTW University Affiliates by hosting PLTW professional development training programs and annual conferences for school administrators, teachers, and counselors, as well as providing ongoing support to PLTW schools.


Dr. Rex Bolinger, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer

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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.