STEM Ecosystems Initiative Overview

The STEM Ecosystems Initiative is built on over a decade of research into successful STEM collaborations, and seeks to nurture and scale effective science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning opportunities for all young people.

Launched in Denver at the Clinton Global Initiative, the STEM Funders Network STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative forms a National Community of Practice with expert coaching and support from leaders such as superintendents, scientists, industry and others.

The 56 communities selected from across the United States compose a national Community of Practice and have demonstrated cross-sector collaborations to deliver rigorous, effective preK-16 instruction in STEM learning. These collaborations happen in schools and beyond the classroom—in afterschool and summer programs, at home, in science centers, libraries and other places both virtual and physical. They spark young people’s engagement, develop their knowledge, strengthen their persistence and nurture their sense of identity and belonging in STEM disciplines. As these STEM Ecosystems evolve, a student will be able to connect what they learn in and out of school with real-world learning opportunities, leading to STEM related careers and opportunities.

Initiative Goals

  • Build out a National Community of Practice comprised of local, regional and state STEM Learning Ecosystems from across the country. Ecosystems will encompass preK-16 schools; community settings such as after-school and summer programs; institutions of higher education; STEM-expert organizations such as science centers, museums, corporations, intermediary and non-profit organizations or professional associations; businesses; funders; and informal experiences at home and in a variety of environments.
  • Support communities in the design and cultivation of STEM Learning Ecosystems through expert technical assistance and coaching provided by TIES (Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM).
  • Support selected STEM Learning Ecosystems to participate in a National Community of Practice to share successes, challenges and opportunities for growth.
  • Inform the STEM education field about the importance of creating connected STEM-rich learning opportunities for children, youth and their families across the educational continuum from preschool through higher education and workforce.

Initiative Approach

Since 2015, the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative has cultivated and supported local, regional and state STEM Learning Ecosystems from across the country.

The Initiative is designed for communities to become an active member within a national network of their peers and STEM leaders in addition to participating in a graduated technical assistance and coaching program.

Membership to the National Community of Practice includes national convenings, webinars, and an online community and is built to encourage peer-to-peer support and mentoring. Participating benefits to the National Community of Practice is supported by the Initiative for the first two years of a community’s participation. Beginning in Year Three, communities will remain members of the National Community of Practice with all participation benefits at a fee of $2,000.

For Technical Assistance and Support, communities will receive two years of specialized coaching. During Year One, all communities will receive coaching that will include a combination of onsite and virtual technical assistance. Following completion of Year One, each community will graduate to a different level of technical assistance that will focus on virtual technical assistance only. By Year Three, each community will become alumni and will have the opportunity to mentor new communities within the National Community of Practice. Communities can elect for more in-depth technical assistance for additional costs during any participating year. See Participation Benefits for more information.