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2022 Grants Challenge

Academic Mentoring Program: Project STEAM

Through our successful Academic Mentoring Program, Project STEAM aims to provide diverse youth in grades K-12, with hands-on activities related to science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) to help youth apply the scientific method to their learning as they play, build, and complete the program’s activities and experiments. The youth will explore and build interest in careers in the STEAM field while applying critical thinking, complex concepts, and creativity to solve problems that they will encounter in the world around them.

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What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Of the students we serve, the average grade in science and math is a C and C+, respectively. Math and science – especially classes taken virtually -- often rely on rote memory for learning, and offer no hands-on activities to supplement lessons. For many students, these subjects have become boring and unmemorable. Only 27% of CSC students are enrolled in any type of art class. While some area schools offer a STEAM magnet program, these programs lack staffing and funding, which limits learning opportunities to a narrow population. Research shows that only 20% of high school graduates in the U.S. are prepared for college-level STEAM courses. Considering that the demand to fill STEAM positions is expected to increase in coming years, if students are ill-prepared for higher education STEAM coursework, a workforce shortage is likely. CSC wishes to interest the youth we serve early on, by increasing equitable access to hands-on STEAM activities and exposing them to STEAM careers.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Within CSC's Youth Center, we offer a successful Academic Mentoring Program that provides students in grades K-12 with year-round tutoring, after school care, homework and online learning assistance, grade monitoring, high school internships, college preparation, youth volunteer opportunities, and academic advising. Funding from this LA2050 grant will support the integration of Project STEAM into our Academic Mentoring Program. Project STEAM activities will be planned by our staff on an ongoing basis, with collaboration from participating students. All activities will be directly tied to what students are covering in school, and/or topics covered under the core competencies for each grade. Customizing the projects to the students’ own academic needs will offer students a sense of importance, and will offer a chance for involvement in their own learning. These hands-on Project STEAM activities will provide immediate assistance with current schoolwork, while enhancing their literacy in science, technology, engineering, art, and math. During the school year, we plan to implement hands-on Project STEAM activities once a week, on Fridays. During winter, spring, and summer breaks, Project STEAM activities will be provided daily. Our staff will also identify opportunities to expose youth to a variety of STEAM careers, such as engineering, veterinary medicine, Information Technology, coding, etc. We will offer virtual/in-person field trips to help youth understand these careers.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

The short-term goal of Project STEAM is to expose underserved, minority youth in Los Angeles to STEAM careers, and to improve academic grades in STEAM subjects. Through participation in Project STEAM, we hope to expand youth’s understanding of complex ideas, to improve STEAM literacy, to promote critical-thinking, and to instill an appreciation of STEAM topics. The long-term goal of Project STEAM is to increase the number of female and minority youth who will attend college in pursuit of higher education in the STEAM field. More college graduates with STEAM degrees will eventually lead to an expanded workforce in Los Angeles. We believe that exposing underserved, minority groups to STEAM programs and STEAM education at a young age, will ultimately create a qualified, passionate, and more diverse STEAM workforce in the future. Project STEAM will increased access to STEAM programs for disadvantaged youth, thus bringing educational equity to diverse, second-generation immigrant children.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

For Project STEAM we will define our success through evaluation of the following measures: Improvements in science grades, as measured by report cards, from baseline to the end of the grant period. Our goal will be to achieve improvements for 75% of our students. Improvements in science grades, as measured by report cards, from baseline to the end of the grant. Our goal will be to achieve improvements for 75% of our students. Identify students who are at high-risk for failing a math or science class, and perform targeting tutoring throughout the grant period. Of those targeted for intensive tutoring, 75% will improve their grade in math and/or science, as measured by report cards, from baseline to the end of the grant period. Conduct 40 hands-on Project STEAM activities for students throughout the grant, with participation by 5 or more students per activity. Of students participating in Project STEAM, 60% will report the activities to be beneficial to their academic success.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 40

Indirect Impact: 60