2022 Grants Challenge

LA STEM Collective

The LA STEM Collective is a group of 40+ museums, parks, zoos, aquariums, university programs, and community-based nonprofit organizations providing hands-on learning experiences for students across LA County. We will build a web portal that will allow teachers and parents to access the STEM learning resources, programs, and opportunities that specifically address the learning objectives for their student or child.


Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

5 Gyres Institute AltaSea Aquarium of the Pacific BEAM.ORG Cabrillo Marine Aquarium California Science Center Columbia Memorial Space Center Debs Park - Audubon Descanso Gardens Discovery Cube Los Angeles Emerald Bay Outdoor Academy Flavor of Aqua Friends of LA River (FOLAR) Girls IN Focus Heal the Bay Aquarium Hidden Genius Project ICCA/Straight A/Tinkers Corner Kidspace Children's Museum LA Audubon/Nature Nexus Institute LA Conservation Corps LA County Sanitation LA Zoo LAMI (Los Angeles Maritime Institute) Madrona Marsh Marine Mammal Care Center Mountain and Sea Education Move the World NAMEPA (North American Marine Environment Protection Assoc.) National Marine Mammal Foundation National Park Service Natural History Museum Oceanographic Teaching Stations, Inc. (Roundhouse Aquarium) Pacific Marine Mammal Center Pacific Battleship Center PS Science Resource Conservation District of Santa Monica Mountains Straight A TreePeople TecnoLatinx Tinker the Robot TxT USC Viterbi K-12 STEM USC Wrigley Institute/Sea Grant Walter Munk Foundation for the Oceans Wildwoods Foundation Waterfront Education

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

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA

West LA

South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles

LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

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?

Prior to the pandemic, LA students already faced a dearth of STEM education opportunities. A study by UC Berkeley found that forty percent of California elementary teachers spend 60 minutes or less teaching science each week and only one-third of teachers feel prepared to teach science. Students in marginalized communities faced even tougher challenges, with fewer supplemental education resources nearby. Our landscape analysis of STEM education organizations in LA County shows vast swaths of south and east LA that are “STEM deserts.” The pandemic further impacted learning across the board and widen the gap for disadvantaged students. At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, an analysis by McKinsey found that unfinished learning exacerbated historical inequities, especially for Black students. While students, on average, finished the year five months behind in Math & Science, children in majority Black schools were six months behind, and students in low-income schools were seven.

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

The LA STEM Collective is an emerging network organization of nearly 50 out-of-school-time (OST) STEM learning providers in LA County, including museums, parks, zoos, aquariums, university programs, and community-based nonprofit organizations. The Collective is building a local STEM ecosystem that brings together community, education, civic and business partners to look holistically at a student’s life in and out of school and leverage those partnerships to assist students and their families. Support will enable the Collective to build out a free web-based portal to provide students, families, teachers, and other adults one-stop access to all of the STEM and community-based resources and learning opportunities available throughout LA. This portal will enable teachers to find programs and resources that specifically address their students’ learning objectives. In turn, this will enable the LA STEM Collective to increase access to coordinated learning experiences across Greater Los Angeles for thousands of students who are still recovering from pandemic-related disruptions in their school and home lives.

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

If successful, the LA STEM Collective will represent the first time that all of the elements in LA County that influence a student’s STEM life in or out of school will come together to work in concert toward common goals. Further, the coordinated organizations of the Collective and their resources will be leveraged to open access to opportunities for students and communities that have traditionally been underrepresented in STEM. From this work, LA County will see its levels of STEM literacy grow and the diversity of its STEM workforce increase. However, the impact of the success of the Collective will go beyond STEM. Because STEM skills cut across all aspects of a person’s life, from creativity to critical thinking, the Collective envisions a region full of joyful children and youth who are excited, confident and prepared to chart any future they want, affecting their own lives and the future of their communities and the world.

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

In our pilot year, during the pandemic, an independent evaluation of the Collective's distance-learning work documented that participating classroom teachers valued the programming tremendously. As we move into in-person classroom and community-based work, we will begin to track and measure the engagement of individual students and youth. In the short term, we will define success by increasing the number of BIPOC students and youth that participate in our programs. In the longer term, we will measure success by considering the following: • Student and family responses to program surveys assessing their value of STEM learning. • The number of local youth who pursue academic STEM pathways. • The number of local youth who pursue STEM careers.

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

Direct Impact: 1,500

Indirect Impact: 150,000

Describe the specific role of the partner organization(s) in the project, program, or initiative.

In addition to maintaining the current level of collective program delivery, each participating member organization of the LA STEM Collective will be responsible for generating the content for their module on the website/portal. The template for the searchable interface will require a deep dive into program curricula, illustrating the alignment with Next Generation Science Standards as well as the Environmental Literacy Blueprint from the California Department of Education. We anticipate each module will require 150+ hours of staff time. Once the portal is live, each organization is responsible for updating its calendars and program offerings, as well as responding to all teacher and public inquiries.