CEF inspires students, engages educators, and strengthens communities to build the future STEM workforce

When it comes to preparing the STEM workforce – those industries relying on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – often the focus is on students in high school and post-secondary education.

But the truth is, if students aren’t inspired by science when they are young – as early as five years old – it gets increasingly harder to engage them in learning and ultimately, enter careers in STEM industries.

CEF’s programs uniquely connect business and education in local communities to reach students early in life and ignite a passion for science-related careers.

CEF continues helping businesses and education providers show young students the potential to build a better world through science. Read CEF’s Case Statement here.

Our History

CEF was founded by the Alliance for Chemical Distribution (formerly the National Association of Chemical Distributors) in 1989.  Since becoming a distinct entity in 1997, CEF continues its strong relationship with ACD members and a range of STEM and science-related businesses that are U.S. and global leaders.

CEF’s flagship program, the Challenge, is a middle school STEM competition that is celebrating it’s 20th Anniversary in 2024!

CEF has engaged nearly half a million students (grades 5-8) over the last 20 years. The Challenge allows students to explore our industries’ positive sustainability impact on their local communities.

See a full list of our contributors.

View our 2021 – 2024 Strategic Plan.