Last week, the U.S. Department of Education held a National Coordinating Conference on STEM Education to launch the Department’s YOU Belong in STEM initiative.
This effort is meant to convene the entire STEM education enterprise—including government agencies, non-governmental and community-based organizations, and leaders across the public and private sectors—to come together to help advance STEM education in the United States.
The YOU Belong in STEM initiative includes three priorities identified by the Department:
Priority #1: Ensure all students from PreK to higher education can excel at rigorous, relevant, and joyful STEM learning;
Priority #2: Develop and support our STEM educators to join, grow, and stay in the STEM teaching profession;
Priority #3: Invest in STEM education strategically and sufficiently using American Rescue Plan and other federal, state, and local funds.
Organizations are invited to identify and share bold commitments that speak to one or more of these priorities; they are encouraged to submit those directly to the Department using this form by December 31, 2022, to help generate a compendium of community actions that will advance STEM education.
In thinking about submitting commitment, the Department encouraged the community to look through the lens of the following elements:
- Equity & Belonging: How does our work support ecosystems to cultivate rigorous, culturally relevant, and joyful STEM classrooms with a focus on belonging that meets the needs of underrepresented students and educators?
- Measurable Impact: How will we know and track the number of stakeholders who will be impacted by this commitment, including states, districts, schools, educators and students?
- Outcome-Oriented: How are we changing and improving the experiences of students and educators because of our work?
- Force Multiplier: How will our commitment advance impact across the STEM ecosystem?
- Transparent: How do we plan to achieve the outcomes and why do we think our approach will work?
- Time-Bound: How will we accomplish our commitment(s) by January 2025?
To date, the Department has received commitments from more than 180 organizations (including ASTC), which together include more than $20 million in investments that will impact more than 10 million students. In addition, many of these commitments specifically target efforts to serve populations traditionally underrepresented in STEM, including students of colors, girls, and low income and rural communities.
National Coordinating Conference
The YOU Belong in STEM National Coordinating Conference on December 7, 2022, engaged more than 1,000 people in-person and online. ASTC was pleased to participate at the in-person event in Washington, D.C., and we were glad to see representatives of several ASTC members—including the California Academy of Sciences; COSI; Explora; Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum; National Girls Collaborative Project; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and New York Hall of Science—and a large number of partners from across the country. ASTC was glad to participate in a breakout session on “Fostering Belong in STEM Anytime, Anyplace! Afterschool, Summer, Informal STEM Programs as Critical Spaces to Foster Belonging in STEM” that included COSI along with the STEM Next Opportunity Fund, Afterschool Alliance, Burroughs Welcome Fund, Digital Harbor Foundation, and Techbridge Girls.
In addition to representatives from the STEM education community, speakers included Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, National Education Association President Becky Pringle, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. And there were recorded remarks from Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Rachel Levine, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.