Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative

Using Collective Impact to build a STEM Learning Ecosystem

Through the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative, Project Exploration is working alongside stakeholders in the Austin neighborhood to expand STEM learning opportunities for the community’s youth. The strengths-based approach is bridging assets and resources within Austin. Read more about some of the new projects launching in Austin through this incredible work!

Project Exploration is the backbone organization for the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative (STEM Co-op), a collaborative effort aimed at increasing youth and family access to STEM learning opportunities, cradle to career. In addition to citywide convenings, one of the STEM Co-op’s goals is to work alongside community stakeholders to expand STEM learning within a neighborhood. The STEM Co-op is taking this localized approach in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side

Over the past year, Project Exploration has worked with community partners to develop a number of initiatives that have been identified as priorities through community conversations. For example, the need for STEM professional development for early childhood educators emerged through conversations with the Austin Childcare Providers Network. Through these discussions, the STEM Co-op has launched a two-year Early Childhood STEM Professional Development pilot in partnership with the University of Chicago STEM Education office, funded by CME Group Foundation. Community conversations, funded by the Hive Chicago Learning Network, will envision what an Austin STEM Learning Center will provide for youth and families, beginning with middle school programs. High school students participating in Project Exploration’s Environmental Adventurers at Austin College and Career Academy, an After School Matters program are working directly with elementary students at George Leland Elementary School to cultivate a native plant garden. This new partnership brings together expertise from Space to Grow, a program that transforms Chicago schoolyards with young people.

These partnerships and initiatives connect resources within the Austin community and reflect the priorities and concerns of community members themselves. The STEM Co-op will continue to work with the Austin community using a strengths-based approach over the next two years and will bridge city wide resources, such as data partners, to support the community’s work in expanding STEM learning.

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