NEOSTEM Ecosystem Statement of the Times Message | School in Fall 2020

For children who live in some communities, the question can prompt big ideas:

President, Astronaut, Engineer, Doctor, Marine Biologist, Welder, Inventor.

For those who live in low-income communities, the question often triggers silence.

Children in underserved, low-income, and low-resource communities have limited exposure to the ideas, opportunities, or role models from which professional dreams and STEM-focused careers are built.

It’s a simple truth.

To be it, you must see it.

In partnership with several Northeast Ohio organizations, the NeoSTEM Ecosystem is launching “DreamSTEM,” an initiative geared to raise individual and community awareness of the many STEM careers available in northeast Ohio, and develop accessible pathways to them

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What Will DreamSTEM do?

DreamSTEM is the umbrella program for a variety of connected initiatives, including:

  • An awareness-building campaign to elevate the importance of STEM through a variety of vehicles, including billboards, social media, neighborhood telephone poles, and fliers displayed at corner shops and grocery stores.
  • In addition to raising awareness about the importance of STEM, DreamSTEM will drive people to a website that collects resources related to STEM pathways and mentorship programs.
  • A STEM mentorship program operated in partnership with the Marconi Society and Case Western Reserve University.
  • Developed career pathways spanning from pre-K to college with specific, tangible, and comprehensive curriculums to follow for selected careers, including both in-school and out-of-school programs.

These pathways will be shared in a variety of places and spaces, including:

  • A website that will be broadly promoted and shared;
  • School guidance counselors;
  • After-school programs; and
  • Various NeoSTEM partners whose names will be added to all materials etc.

Why Is This Work Important?

Students – especially those in underserved communities – have little knowledge about viable STEM career options.

Research continues to show that a positive STEM identity strongly influences a child’s decision to pursue STEM in education and career. In fact, no matter how exciting a learning experience might be, if students can’t envision themselves in future career roles, they will be less likely to continue preparing for the role.

Mentorship is particularly important in our ability to diversify the workforce to include more women and people of color, who remain drastically underrepresented in the STEM talent pools. Data, including reports from the Pew Research Center, shows that whites hold a large majority of all bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering, with Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians/Alaska natives grossly underrepresented in science and engineering compared to their shares of the population.

What Is the Design Team’s Role?

  • The Design Team will help steer the evaluation of the DreamSTEM initiative, and will offer thought leadership about all initiatives connected to Dream STEM.
  • Using research supplied by NeoSTEM and its partners, the Design Team will select the four to five careers that will be highlighted as part of DreamSTEM.
  • The Design Team will recommend individuals, both adults and students, who will be featured in various outreach materials.
  • The Design Team will help spread the word about DreamSTEM.
  • The Design Team will offer recommendations for mentors to join the program.

What Will We Ask the Design Team to Do?

We will ask the Design Team to:

  • Attend three virtual 90-minute meetings during Spring 2021 and offer its thoughts via shared documents.
  • Lend their names and biographies to a publicly shared list of Design Team members for DreamSTEM.
  • Speak about the initiative in various public settings and to key influencers.
  • Offer virtual feedback on various documents and plans developed for DreamSTEM.
  • Read periodic updates about the progress of the initiative.