The Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative: Convening Critical Conversations in STEM in Out of School Time

By Stephanie Levi, Ph.D.

This past February, the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative (led by PE) hosted thirty local leaders to follow up on 2012’s “The State of STEM in Out of School Time in Chicago” report and conference, and begin planning next steps in the Cooperative’s work.

On February 28, representatives from STEM OST networks, the Chicago Office of the Mayor, and a variety of local funding agencies at the Chicago Community Trust met for a review of the findings of the 2012 report, as well as a review of other local networks. Perspective on the national STEM OST landscape was presented by Anita Krishnamurthi, Vice President of STEM Policy at the Afterschool Alliance, who discussed the Alliance’s work to better understand best practices for successful system-wide STEM OST networks.

Matthew Blakely, Director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation (standing in for Jan Morrison, CEO for the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM) discussed the STEM Funders Network, a group of funders working to strategically support and further STME OST work. Following the general meeting, the funders met for a closed meeting to discuss funding priorities, how best to collaborate to further systematic approaches to STEM in OST, challenges and opportunities for implementing a system-wide STEM OST approach, and their vision for moving a systematic approach to STEM in OST forward from a funding perspective.

Building on the momentum of February’s successful meeting, the Cooperative will be coordinating additional convenings for Chicago’s STEM OST community- including practitioners, funders, administrators, and other interested parties-this year to address topics of interest to the community. Project Exploration is excited to support this important and impactful work.

The Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative is a unique collaborative housed at Project Exploration that is moving Chicago’s conversation about systematic approaches to Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in out-of-school time (OST) forward.  The Cooperative is a group of STEM OST practitioners, educators, museum, university and city administrators, researchers interested in STEM OST ecosystems and aligned, city-wide approaches to STEM in OST to support youth, families, and the schools and communities in which they live and learn.

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