2023 Grants Challenge

Ernest E Just Youth Science Program

Implement a separate high school program tract for the Saturday Science Academy and Marine Science Camp. This will provide more extended and higher-level instruction with three to four topics over seven months for the Saturday Science Academy. The Marine Science component will be a separate 3-day session of marine science exposure at Catalina Island along with a 5-day program at Scripps Institute in San Diego. High school outcomes will be more successful with high school student on a separate tract from elementary and middle school students


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

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?

The program addresses a critical disparity of people of color in the STEAM workforce. Of particular concern are women and minorities, who have been historically and significantly underrepresented in STEAM disciplines. The disparity of representation is particularly alarming given the demographic changes occurring in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, by the year 2050, underrepresented minority groups will constitute nearly 50% of the US college-aged population. These numbers emphasize the need to allocate resources to expand the pool of qualified STEAM prepared students to women and minorities. The program also addresses the need to improve the performance of African-American and Latinx students in science and math in school. The minority students in our focus area, South Los Angeles and surrounding areas, are statistically performing poorly in science and math in school and have low interest in STEM careers.

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

The program will expand our current elementary/middle/high school program to an expand approach and level for the high school curriculum to consist of higher focus on a single STEM topic for a more extended period. Classes will be offered every 3rd and 4th Saturday for 6 hrs each day from January to July. The program will be taught at California State University Dominguez Hills and will be supplemented with STEM relevant field trips including a week-long Summer Marine Science Camp in August. The high school Saturday Science Program curriculum with alternate on a single STEM topic the first half of the 7-month period and a second topic the second half. Instructors will come from local colleges and/or STEM-based companies. The August Marine Science Camp will focus on college level marine biology and will be conducted at two venues: Scripps Institute and USC Marine science Center at Catalina Island. Promotion of the program and student recruitment will start in September 2023. The application period will be from October to December and the program will start in January 2024. Our current approach provides instruction for high school students at a middle school level and students quickly lose interest, which affects retention. Elevating and expanding the classes will not only improve interest and retention, but is will improve preparation for college and interest in STEM careers.

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

Historically, African American and Hispanic high school students have been underachieving in math and science in Los Angeles County schools especially in South Los Angeles. Reasons can vary depending on various factors such as school resources, teacher quality, socioeconomic status, and individual student circumstances. While the school districts are doing much to address the issue and bridge the gap between minority students and their non-minority counterparts, out of school programs, such as ours, have proven to be a significant contributor to improving in-school academic performance and in increasing interest in math and science careers. If successful, our program will help to improve math and science performance in schools across South Los Angeles and change career and life vectors for many students. These students then become contributing citizens to their communities and not socioeconomic burdens

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 Bridge Builders Foundation assesses the effectiveness of our efforts at multiple levels: 1) student program participation, 2) parent satisfaction, and 3) educator effectiveness. Program Logic Models are used as the primary structure for program evaluations. We employ qualitative and quantitative pre-post testing, surveys, and focus groups. Our STEM program employs quantitative pre-post tests on lesson plan content, administered before and after each class session. The tests measure subject knowledge gain using a standardized knowledge gain process. Our desired outcome is that students will show a minimum normalized knowledge gain of 30 percent. The test also can indicate instructor effectiveness based on a pattern of overall student outcomes. Pre-post qualitative STEAM interest surveys are also administered at the beginning and end of the program year. Additionally, parent and student satisfaction surveys are administered at the end of each annual program.

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

Direct Impact: 300

Indirect Impact: 100