A Systems-Thinking Approach to STEM Ecosystem Development in Chicago

Project Exploration a National Science Foundation Awardee

February 1, 2018: Project Exploration has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) INCLUDES grant to support its grassroots STEM ecosystem development in the Austin neighborhood.

The National Science Foundation’s INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science) is a comprehensive initiative to enhance U.S. leadership in science and engineering discovery and innovation by proactively seeking and effectively developing STEM talent from all sectors and groups in our society. By facilitating partnerships, communication and cooperation, NSF aims to build on and scale up what works in broadening participation programs to reach under served populations nationwide.

About Project SYSTEMIC

Project SYSTEMIC, led by Project Exploration, aims to broaden participation of African American youth in STEM learning opportunities. The two-year project focuses on the Austin neighborhood and will model how community members and local stakeholders can be engaged to think about the STEM learning environment in their own neighborhood.

The project will equip residents and stakeholders with systems-thinking techniques to map the existing STEM learning assets and identify possible interventions and opportunities to broaden participation of their neighborhood youth in STEM. Project SYSTEMIC is premised on an asset-based approach and advances the field of STEM education by providing a model for organizing community around systems data and local STEM priorities.

Project SYSTEMIC will:

  • Convene community conversations to map neighborhood STEM learning assets, leading to increased participation of African American youth in existing programming;
  • Increase collaboration among a diverse set of stakeholders; and
  • Develop a community-driven strategy for broadening participation of neighborhood youth in STEM learning opportunities.

Through Project SYSTEMIC, we will develop a model for authentically engaging and mobilizing multiple stakeholders in a community to broaden participation of youth in STEM. In addition to scaling this model to other neighborhoods in Chicago, Project Exploration will share the model broadly with the nationwide STEM Ecosystems Initiative.

Learn More about Project SYSTEMIC

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