2022 Grants Challenge

STEAM, Students, and the LA Times: A 21st Century Education Initiative

Building on a tradition of civic responsibility The Los Angeles Times will mobilize the connections and resources within the organization to support educators and inspire K-12 students for careers in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).


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?

County of Los Angeles

Other:: While we do not a formal partnership with LAUSD we do work with schools and educators in LAUSD

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?

Many school children are unprepared for careers in STEAM with learners in the United States regularly scoring low on math and science tests. In a study by Microsoft, 4 in 5 STEM college students (78%) said they decided to study STEM in high school or earlier, and 1 in 5 (21%) decided in middle school or earlier. Yet only 1 in 5 STEM college students feel that their K–12 education prepared them extremely well for their college courses in STEM. STEAM careers also pay exceptionally well (college learners who graduate with STEAM degrees earn more than their counterparts in other fields) and the demand for workers with STEAM degrees continues to grow. A report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 8% growth in STEM and STEAM-related occupations between now and 2029, compared to 3.4% for non-STEM occupations. Preparing students in K-12 for careers in STEAM fields is critical. If not addressed now students will continue to feel discouraged as they reach college.

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

To support educators and inspire K-12 students for careers in STEAM we will activate in the following ways: • Develop a STEAM High School Internship program. This remote 10-week intensive program will be offered to 8 high school students across Los Angeles. During the internship, students will be mentored by STEAM reporters, such as Julia Rosen, a science reporter. These mentors will assist interns in learning about and developing important, timely STEAM stories, such as the effect of climate change on Southern California. • Conduct interviews with LA Times staff specializing in STEAM. Interviews will show how staffers were set on their career paths and the skills they need to succeed in their roles. For example, Sam Dean covers the tech industry in Southern California and could provide advice to students interested in pursuing careers in tech. Data and graphics journalist Aida Ylanan could share more about the intersection of technology and art, and why visual arts is such an important part of storytelling. These interviews will be distributed to teachers and students involved with Times in Education and High School Insider (two additional LA Times initiatives).

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

If our work is successful, then both students and teachers in Los Angeles will feel supported and informed about STEAM. Our vision for success is that in the short-term educators feel they have materials to educate students on STEAM and that students are engaged in advanced learning, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity skills. Furthermore, students across Los Angeles will have access to a paid STEAM reporting opportunity at one of the largest newsrooms in the country. For the long term, our hope is that students feel they are better prepared for continued education in STEAM-related fields.

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

The LA Times launched High School Insider, a platform for LA high schoolers in 2014. Every year, a small group of students is selected to participate in an internship, providing them the opportunity to be mentored by reporters and learn valuable career skills. HS Insider has supported hundreds of students—especially those from underrepresented backgrounds—in pursuing journalism careers and could do the same in supporting more students in pursuing STEAM careers. Interns spend an average of 1,440 hours of professional development and LA Times editorial staff spend over 200 hours connecting with students. The HS Insider program has over 400 partner schools and has surpassed 8,000 total posts and 625,000 unique page views since its inception. Launched in 1986, the Times in Education program is the LA Times’ longest-running education program providing support to over 600 teachers across Los Angeles annually. The program reached 96,000 K-12 students in the 2019-2020 school year.

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

Direct Impact: 600

Indirect Impact: 35,000