The vision of NSF’s Scholarships in STEM (S-STEM) program is that all Americans, regardless of economic status, may pursue a STEM degree and contribute to the innovation economy. To that end, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and its partners: the American Institute for Research (AIR), Quality Education for Minorities (QEM), and MN Associates, Inc. (MNA) are launching the AAAS-NSF S-STEM Resource and Evaluation Center (REC), which will foster a network of S-STEM stakeholders to generate and disseminate new knowledge, successful practices, and effective design principles arising from NSF S-STEM projects across the nation.
Among other important activities, the REC will convene an annual meeting of at least 1,000 S-STEM scholars to build a community for the program’s main beneficiaries: talented low-income STEM students. This scholar meeting and the larger center, will engage a number of industry partners, which will support scholars’ ability to succeed in their future STEM careers. In addition, the center will curate and disseminate knowledge, provide technical assistance, and share resources both within the S-STEM network and to the wider community of STEM educators and professionals invested in supporting the success of low-income students. The proposed REC will also produce two public national reports examining the S-STEM program’s national impact on the domestic workforce, institutional approaches to low-income student success, and the individual scholars. The REC will build the capacity of S-STEM awardees by sharing effective, replicable strategies for supporting S-STEM Scholars and will also build the capacity of S-STEM projects by providing technical assistance to project evaluators.
This center will create opportunities for the S-STEM scholars to come together to expand their academic and professional network, learn about academic and career opportunities, and increase their ability to become proficient members of the STEM workforce. The REC will ground the proposed activities within Yosso’s theoretical framework of Community Cultural Wealth which considers cultural capital in college from an asset approach. Yosso’s model explores the talents, strengths, and experiences that students often leverage within the college environment and is broadly generalizable. Within this framework, the center will specifically attend to the unique strengths and opportunities of S-STEM Scholars specifically and low-income students more broadly. Advancing our knowledge of evidence-based best practices for recruiting, retaining, mentoring, and supporting high-achieving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students from low-income backgrounds is of strategic importance for the nation.
NSF’s S-STEM program provides awards to Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) to fund scholarships to talented low-income STEM students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees and to advance the adaptation, implementation, and study of evidence-based curricular and co-curricular activities that promote recruitment, retention, and graduation in STEM for academically talented students with demonstrated financial need.
Good things to come! Stay tuned.