II. Departmentwide Appropriations

Program: Starbase grant


All from Federal Funds:





Program Description:

This appropriation funds the Starbase Program.  This program — founded in fiscal year 1991 by Barbara Koscak, a professional educator, and the 127th Fighter Wing Division — is aimed at attracting and preparing students for science, mathematics, engineering and technology-related fields of study, with special attention given to youth.  The program, housed at Selfridge Air Force Base, gives students hands-on experience with high-tech equipment. 

According to the U.S. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs website, the goals of Starbase include “provid[ing] students and teachers with an exceptional program for hands-on science, math, technology, substance abuse prevention, and goal setting skills.”  It also seeks to “develop strong self-esteem and positive attitudes for students and teachers.”[9] The program “targets its mission with minority at-risk students in the fifth and sixth grades,”[10] through “56 separate classes over 5 week periods … [and] summer programs …”[11]

According to Koscak, the program has raised about $1.2 million in private contributions during the past 3 years; money it has used to acquire much of the program’s unique equipment and facility enhancements.[12]

Recommended Action:

This appropriation should be eliminated.  Helping inspire low-income children to stay in school and to excel in math and science is laudable.  It does not follow, however, that government funding is necessary to make this program work. Indeed, Kettering University in Genesee County runs  “pre-college programs” for young people interested in engineering and mathematics and it does so without government assistance.  Savings:  $600,000.