On May 7-9, representatives from afterschool education, formal education, business, foundations, nonprofits, and more gathered in Huntsville, AL for the 2018 National STEM Summit. Hosted by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (the Mott Foundation), STEM Next Opportunity Fund, and the Alabama Afterschool Community Network (ALACN), the annual Summit brought together 150 participants from 29 states. During the three-day event in “Rocket City,” home to NASA facilities and a U.S. Army post, attendees discussed collaborative cross-sector strategies for promoting STEM education in Out-of-School Time (OST) programs on a national level and within their home states.
State representatives included leaders from each state’s afterschool network, as well as invited partners from the K-12, nonprofit, and business sectors. In addition to plenary sessions and break-out workshops, the Summit provided multiple sessions of “team time” for state teams to discuss how they can work together to improve STEM education for their state’s children and youth. Summit workshops covered a broad range of topics such as computer science as a new basic skill, state and federal policies to support a STEM ready workforce, and strengthening partnerships and participation in rural communities. Plenary sessions included presentations from Alisha Benson (Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, and Greater Spokane Incorporated), Sam Whiting (Boeing), Ruthe Farmer (CSforALL), and Dr. Gil Noam (The PEAR Institute).At the Summit, GPG facilitated two team time sessions for the Alabama team, which included representatives of regional and local organizations throughout the state in addition to statewide partners.
On the first day, after a brief activity to introduce everyone in the room, the Alabama team formed small groups to discuss the assets and challenges of afterschool and STEM efforts throughout the state. On the second day, the team formed small groups by region of the state (north, central, south), and each group discussed specific opportunities for collaborating across sectors to achieve the biggest impact possible for STEM education in their region.Since October 2016, GPG has worked with seven statewide afterschool networks to facilitate a planning process focused on sustaining (and scaling) their STEM programs and activities. At the 2017 STEM Institute in Silver Spring, MD, GPG facilitated a session to engage all meeting participants in thinking about the sustainability of their STEM efforts.
GPG is grateful to the STEM Next Opportunity Fund and the Mott Foundation for the opportunity to attend the 2018 STEM Summit. Thank you to the Alabama team for productive participation, Alabama-style barbecue, and all the sweet tea we could drink.