An in-depth report that analyzes the stories and work of the 92 applicants of the US2020 STEM Coalition Challenge that exposes strategies for how STEM mentorship and maker-centered education can scale learning for underrepresented youth. Via US2020
Research shows that by the time they reach the sixth grade, students in poverty have spent 6,000 less hours learning than middle class peers. Bridging this opportunity gap is the challenge, and often, this lack of opportunity derives from having limited access to opportunities and role models nearby. Many students can be discouraged from pursuing STEM because they do not know anyone who works in these fields and do not understand what STEM professionals do. Research also shows that project-based learning catalyzes student science interest more than traditional classroom learning, and that learning by doing is six times more impactful than learning in the classroom/tests. Sparking student interest in STEM requires inspiration in their own lives, but, more often than not, this inspiration is not as easily found in the lives of the students.
To bridge this gap, US2020 launched The STEM Coalition Challenge, a competition for
communities across the country to develop cross-sector partnerships to bring quality
hands-on maker-centered learning to underrepresented students at scale through STEM
Bringing more opportunities to students – specifically for girls, students from low income families, and students of color – is key to ensuring the economic and social success of students and their local communities.
Communities were called on to share their approaches to innovative partnership building, creating sustainable STEM-mentorship pipelines, and embedding maker-centered learning in students’ lives by applying a collective impact approach. The result to this call to action was overwhelming – over 90 communities across the country responded with proposals for new models and solutions to bridge this gap.
Bringing together a panel of STEM experts, Mentorship specialists and creative
community builders, each application was scored based on their merit across four main criteria: Impact, Effective Partnerships, Creative Engagement, and Sustainability.
This process resulted in shortlisting 15 finalist communities, and ultimately, 8 winners, across which over $1 million of prize value has been distributed. This report highlights what we’ve learned about how communities are approaching their work, and showcases how communities across the country are bringing creativity and new thinking to their approaches for bridging the opportunity gap through STEM mentorship andmaker-centered learning