What We’re Learning

The sector-wide conversations are complete, and we’ve analyzed our pre-survey data (responses are being collected on a rolling basis, even after the RFQ is submitted, so please fill it out today if you haven’t already!).

So many outstanding ideas came out of our sector-wide conversations – thanks to all who attended and participated in those!  Here is a sampling of what we’ve learned from our pre-survey data:

Outcomes of STEM Learning Ecosystem that would most benefit Chicago:

  • Established progression between existing programs to provide clear definition of learning and practice possibilities/pathways in STEM for all K-college youth
  • Improved coordination, collaboration, and leadership to support thoughtful, innovative, and learner-centered STEM learning pathways
  • Improved connections between STEM and youth
  • Alignment of work of various groups doing STEM work
  • Universally recognized definition of what program quality means, and common metrics to measure program quality
  • Universally recognized definition of what STEM means
  • Universally recognized system for badging, including employer recognition of badges
  • A central clearinghouse that lists all STEM opportunities, arranged by age group and time commitment
  • A useful central data sharing system

What is your “enlightened self-interest?”

  • Having a more interested audience, willing to invest more time and resources into STEM OST learning – depends upon being able to provide clear leads for users to take advantage of STEM learning in the city
  • A place/mechanism to share resources with our current and future students – clearinghouse, mailing list
  • Shared understanding of how our programs can complement and support other STEM programs and engage youth to increase impact
  • Improved partnership and collaboration between K-12, higher education, and industry to develop programs, provide joint professional development, provide college/career connections, and internships
  • Improved opportunities to connect teen program participants with internships in STEM business and research institutions
  • Shared data that can help members align activities and put students at the center of collaboration strategies

What is the nature of your commitment to the STEM Learning Ecosystem?

  • Offering our programs to the ecosystem
  • Providing and disseminating information
  • Models for and best practices on partnerships between large network of stakeholders, including K-12, informal and formal education, higher education, industry, government
  • Connections to the STEM Pathways, which is parallel and seeks to reach STEM OST practitioners – funded by HIVE Chicago
  • Best practices in evaluation, a framework to identify common metrics, building staff capacity to integrate evaluation into all aspects of our work
  • Experience in urban leadership and STEM engagement for youth, families, and schools
  • Demographic information and evaluation for Pre-K – 12 programs
  • Access to our large network of partners in Illinois – interested in scaling our programs in Illinois and partners with other organizations to leverage our tools including our Mentor Matching Engine
  • Locally relevant content expertise
  • Educational pedagogy knowledge and staff with experience bridging formal and informal learning
  • Existing OST programming infrastructure, including models and systems
  • Experience working with underserved populations
  • Experience writing large federal grants
  • Faculty to provide in-service professional development
  • Time and meeting space
  • Planning team support, funding availability, thought leadership
  • Participate on committees; provide in kind support; possibility of financial support; pilot and execute programs
  • Besides funding, willingly advocate for this work among other funders and service providers and help however I can through my various networks
  • We want to be an engaged private sector STEM company throughout the process and offer relevant assets/strengths.

What are your perceived barriers to a STEM ecosystem?

  • The amount of time needed to invest in the ecosystem – numerous time commitments of people involved
  • TIME for the network to ensure partners participate and the outcomes are not biased by stakeholders whose participation was most frequent and neglect key areas of consideration by others.
  • The amount of work needed to invest in the ecosystem – keeping up with communication overhead, knowing what others are offering, when, and where so we don’t reinvent the wheel, sending people with jobs to trainings, and the like
  • The willingness, ability, and legal issues for stakeholders to share data across the ecosystem
  • Silos – lots of good, but uncoordinated work occurring – awareness must be increased
  • Going for more than superficial programs and feel-good stories – we need a sustained, deep dive into the weeds
  • Establishing a shared language, set of goals, and vision around STEM ecosystem, and how to implement it
  • The commitment of boards and administrators of various organizations participating in this work – they have to be on board too
  • A heavy emphasis on specialized workforce development instead of development of well-rounded learners who can enter a range of fields with STEM literacy
  • Codifying data collected from program participants across programs and institutions
  • Figuring out how to best maximize the assets/expertise of each stakeholder and use it effectively to advance the ecosystem
  • Being risk averse.  To make a meaningful impact in a short period of time requires more than incremental changes
  • The social acceptance that is ok not to be good on math or science
  • Overcoming fear that collaborating with lessen the “pie” for individual entities – moving to true collaboration and coordination

Certainly, there is more to come – now we’ll be focused on our writing!  Note, there will NOT be Friday meetings from July 24-July 31 to accommodate writing.  If you have any questions, please contact Stephanie Levi at SLevi@projectexploration.org.

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