On Wednesday, April 18st, local corporations, and education and nonprofit organizations will come together, at the Newark Museum, to address the current state of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in New Jersey and the greater tri-state region. The 2nd Annual STEM Summit is a convening of the tri-state STEM coalition, a group committed to ensuring that all youth, including underrepresented minority and female youth, have access to high quality STEM education.
The group is being assembled by Citizen Schools, a national education organization with programs in Newark and New York City, in partnership with Novartis Pharmaceuticals, in response to a growing concern about STEM education. Many educators worry about the growing STEM achievement gap between U.S. students and students from other developed countries, particularly as jobs in STEM areas are increasing in demand. On the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), U.S. 15-year-olds scored 23rd in science out of 65 countries, lagging far behind powerhouses China, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.
At the same time that our students are lagging behind internationally, we are seeing that women and people of color continue to be underrepresented in well-paying, secure STEM jobs here in the U.S. According to a 2011 U.S. Department of Congress report, women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, but hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. African Americans, Latinos, and other underrepresented minorities, who together constitute 24 percent of the U.S. population, represent just 10 percent of science and engineering professionals with a college degree.
At the national level, there are signs of a significant new focus on STEM education. From President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign to the 100Kin10 movement to recruit excellent STEM educators, national leaders are focusing their efforts on solutions to increase STEM literacy among all U.S. students and expand STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including female and minority students.
These programs bring STEM to the forefront of the nation's education conversation and Wednesday’s event will call on tri-state area companies and organizations to explore how they can play a role in addressing the issue locally. Attendees will discover how organizations are already forming partnerships to make STEM learning accessible for young students and how they can help excel and build upon those efforts.
The event will feature opening keynote speaker Kevin Aspell, Cisco’s Business Development Manager for Education, and closing keynote speaker Navarrow Wright, Chief Technology Officer at Interactive One. The summit will also feature guest speakers and presenters from Citizen Schools, New York Science Academy, Google, Cognizant, IBM, Pfizer, Saint Philips Academy, and Verizon.
“Our future depends on providing our youth with access to first-class STEM education,” said Lucy Castillo, Executive Director of Citizen Schools New Jersey. “Citizen Schools is thrilled to be working with partners like Novartis Pharmaceuticals to bring together a distinguished group of leaders from across the tri-state to build the knowledge, inspiration, and action necessary to make that happen.”
Citizen Schools, which operates in seven states including New Jersey and New York, has recruited approximately 25,000 professionals nationwide, including many scientists and other STEM professionals, to teach middle school students over the past seventeen years. The organization helps improve student achievement, with a focus on STEM, through expanded learning days and skill-building hands-on learning projects called apprenticeships. These 10-week apprenticeships are taught by volunteer experts who teach middle schools students about new careers and fields, including a wide variety of STEM careers, through real-world experiences.
About Citizen Schools
Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for low income children across the country. Citizen Schools uniquely mobilizes thousands of adult volunteers to help improve student achievement by teaching skill-building apprenticeships. The organization’s programs blend these real-world learning projects with rigorous academic and leadership development activities, preparing students in the middle grades for success in high school, college, the workforce, and civic life.
Learn more about Citizen Schools’ programs and results at www.citizenschools.org. For New Jersey specifics, visit http://www.citizenschools.org/newjersey/. For New York specifics, visit http://www.citizenschools.org/newyork/.