2022 Grants Challenge

Empowering Compton Youth through STEAM Education

Houses of STEAM is a program where Compton youth and their families will learn about STEAM education through hands-on training, building projects, attending field trips and speaking with BIPOC professionals in the STEAM career fields.


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?

South LA

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

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

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

Unearth and Empower Communities (UEC) is a nonprofit in Compton. Systemic racism impacts Compton’s youth and creates critical disparities in employment and education. Compton’s residents are 35.2% White, 28.9% Black or African American, 68.0% Hispanic or Latino, and almost 30% of its residents are under 18 years. Only 62.1% of residents have a high school degree or higher compared to 79.8% of Los Angeles County (LAC). Only 9.3% of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 33.5% of LAC. Almost 20% of residents live in poverty. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) occupations continue to be the fastest growing within the workforce across the US economy (BLS, 2017). Despite comprising 27% of the US population, only 11% of science and engineering jobs are held by Black, Latinx, and Native American workers (NSF, 2018). Houses of STEAM was established to broaden the opportunities for BIPOC students and to increase the student numbers who pursue a STEAM career.

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

The goal of the Houses of STEAM (HOS) program is to increase the number of STEAM careers that Compton students choose upon high school graduation. During the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, UEC created the HOS program with both a virtual and in-person learning platform for family homes throughout the City of Compton to build culturally relevant projects that highlight science, technology, engineering, art and math for students in grades K-6. Over the course of nine months, weekly family cohorts gathered for online instruction and community building. Monthly, Compton HOS families showcased their home-engineered projects at Family Fun Days and explained the creation and execution process of each project. Selected projects included a large Paper Mache Exploding Volcano, Catapult, Lava Lamp, Zoetrope, Paint Rockets, Growing Caterpillars into Butterflies, Building & Coding an mBot Robot and creating a variety of electrical circuits. A marine biologist and a mechanical engineer volunteered to be on staff. For 2022-23, to address the oversaturation of online learning hours for Compton families, HOS will build on accomplishments of previous years and become a supplemental academic hybrid program for 50 K-6 Compton youth & their families to experience STEAM education through hands-on training, building projects, attending field trips & speaking with BIPOC professionals in STEM career fields. HOS will offer 15 learning STEM experiences and internships. Tutors will be Compton youth.

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

The long-term goal of HOS is to end the cycle of poverty and eradicate the high school dropout rate for 100% of our participants living in the City of Compton. The short-term (October 2022 to October 2023) goal is to engage our third cohort of 50 Compton students and their families to participate in at least 90% of the learning experiences, increase student interest in STEAM fields to at least 80%, increase student daily average attendance in school to 90%+, train 100% of families to assist their students in broadening their STEAM awareness, guide 80%+ students to apply for internships and employment in STEAM careers in middle and high school, attain 100% high school graduation rate and 80%+ pursue a STEAM career, 80%+ pursue a major in a STEAM field and 70%+ graduate from college with a STEAM degree. Over the course of the Compton HOS experience from grades K-12, students and families will be supported academically through our After School Program in algebra, geometry and calculus.

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

UEC will expand our current HOS model. For 2022-23, HOS will become a supplemental academic hybrid program for 50 K-6 Compton youth & their families. Curriculum changes are based on quality improvement survey results completed by past cohorts. Surveys included areas of “success” and “needed improvement”. The HOS program was rated on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). Success areas included 1. students were engaged in building the projects, 2. enjoyed attending the Family Fun Days, 3. grew in their knowledge of STEM, 4. used art, math and science to hypothesize and to solve problems. Areas that need improvement are 1. desires less time virtually, 2. desires more hands-on instruction, 3. interested in attending more field trips, 4. desires more opportunities to speak with BIPOC professionals in the STEM field, and 5. desires more tutoring in math education. The expanded HOS program will be evaluated on process and outcomes using surveys, listening sessions & student report cards.

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

Direct Impact: 50

Indirect Impact: 500