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The Challenger Space Center Arizona, located in Peoria, is shown. The museum was awarded more than $50,000 this week by the APS Foundation to expand professional development for its educators. (Facebook photo)

The Arizona Public Service Co. Foundation announced Wednesday it has awarded $1.1 million to several nonprofit groups throughout the state that support STEM educational programs.

The Phoenix Business Journals says Arizona students have a lower proficiency in the studies of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) than a majority of their peers across the country. The APS Foundation began to focus on STEM programs in 2012, according to the Business Journal.

The foundation's $1.1 million in grant money will be going to the following nine nonprofit groups:

• Maricopa County Community College District Foundation ($300,000)

• Northern Arizona University Foundation ($199,923)

• American Indian College Fund ($100,000)

• Arizona Science Teachers Association Inc. ($72,202)

• Girl Scouts - Arizona Cactus-Pine Council Inc. ($60,000)

• Challenger Space Center Arizona ($51,735)

• Teach for America Inc. ($50,000)

• Arizona Science Center ($26,080)

• National Audubon Society, Inc. ($25,000)

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