On February 27-28, 2017, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (the Mott Foundation), STEM Next, and the Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) Network hosted the annual Afterschool STEM Institute in Silver Spring, MD. Representatives of statewide afterschool networks from more than 27 states across the nation gathered to share their strategies, challenges, and goals for promoting STEM education in Out-of-School Time (OST) programs within their state. Participants represented a diversity of states and regions from Maine to Florida, New York to West Virginia, Iowa to Idaho, and Oregon to Alaska.
Three key themes were prominent throughout the Institute: partnership development, program quality, and messaging about the statewide afterschool networks’ work. Statewide afterschool network representatives strategized about how to form and strengthen partnerships with public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and businesses in a resource-scarce environment – for example, by connecting with businesses for non-funding support. Network representatives discussed efforts to improve OST program quality and how to best collect and use data about the programs in their states. Finally, participants were coached through key messages about the importance of STEM as a vital component of 21st century jobs, based on the newly released STEM Ready America compendium.
The full Institute agenda, including details about breakout sessions, is available here.
Since October 2016, GPG has worked with six statewide afterschool networks to facilitate a planning process focused on sustaining (and scaling) their STEM programs and activities. GPG opened the Institute with a session to engage all meeting participants in thinking about the sustainability of their STEM efforts. Through paired conversations and afterschool network team-based discussions, GPG prompted participants to assess:
- The extent to which STEM is integrated into their network’s core work of sustaining and expanding quality OST in their state
- How successfully their network has identified and engaged partners and funders for STEM work
- Their network’s strengths/assets and challenges/gaps.
GPG shared sustainability planning tools and templates and shared draft STEM sustainability plans developed by OregonASK and PSAYDN (Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network), two of the networks GPG is working closely with to support sustainability planning.
- The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s focus on advancing afterschool
- STEM Next: Engaging Learners Everywhere
- STEM Ready America (a compendium of evidence and examples on how STEM knowledge and skills are preparing young people for success)
- The Afterschool Alliance (research, data, and state-specific profiles on afterschool programming)