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Creating a STEM Career Pipeline for Low-Income and Immigrant Youth National Science Foundation ITEST

Primary Investigator(s):

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

Period: 3/15/2014 - 10/1/2017

This strategies project focuses on a community-based model for providing middle and high school students who live in low-income public housing in the High Point neighborhood in Seattle, WA with opportunities to learn about STEM higher education and STEM careers and to develop interests, identities, and skills to pursue workforce opportunities in STEM. The University of Washington (UW) 3DL Partnership, a collaboration between UW College of Education and School of Social Work, together with UW Undergraduate Academic Affairs' Dream Project (which focuses on mentoring for college readiness and post-secondary success) will partner with Neighborhood House (NH). NH is a comprehensive community-based organization (CBO) that has been serving Seattle and King County’s low-income, immigrant and refugee communities since 1906.

This project builds on robust, existing programs within NH to: (1) increase NH students’ knowledge about STEM higher education and STEM careers; (2) increase NH students’interest and motivation in STEM; and (3) increase NH students’ identification with STEM as a set of practices that they know about, use, and influence. We will impact 250-300 youth and families through one-time events and 124 youth through intensive programming that spans a full year. Intensive programming emphasizes: (1) mentoring for college readiness in STEM and understanding STEM occupational choices; (2) creating a Tinkering Studio for students to explore and develop STEM interests and identities; (3) expanding students’ opportunities to learn about the role people of color have played in STEM and envisioning opportunities for their own participation in STEM; and (4) offering STEM job shadowing and career readiness. We focus our efforts on underrepresented minority youth to contribute to a more diversified STEM workforce, a priority of NSF. We locate our efforts at NH because of its comprehensive programming model and its wrap-around services for local residents (Anderson & Larson, 2009). Informal learning opportunities based in CBOs like NH can help to connect youths’ science interests with their family and cultural communities, thereby producing support more broadly within the local context for STEM learning and workforce development (Afterschool Alliance, 2011; Banks et al, 2007; Nasir et al, 2006).