Why Apply – Participation Benefits
If selected, a community will become part of the National Community of Practice and participate in peer and expert-led technical assistance and support within the community and on an individualized basis. This is not a grant program but an opportunity for communities to join 56 other STEM Learning Ecosystems in a National Community of Practice and two years of individualized technical assistance and coaching.
By joining the National Community of Practice, communities will gain access to:
- National Convenings: Join STEM Learning Ecosystem members from the participating 56 communities at two National Community convenings hosted by the STEM Funders Network. Registration, meals, travel and hotel for two ecosystem members per site will be provided, and Ecosystems may bring additional members at the community’s cost.
- Community Website: Through a robust internal web-based platform, Ecosystem members can maintain communications via a discussion board, web-based practice groups, and calendar of events.
- Peer Developed Resources: Ecosystem members share resources through the online community. Ecosystem members can upload documents, tools and other resources to share with each other.
- Monthly Webinars: Ecosystems will have the opportunity to participate in monthly Community of Practice phone calls/web-based meetings with national, state and regional speakers (including grantmakers, STEM experts, cross-collaboration experts, education policy experts)
- Lead STEM: Ecosystem will be invited to participate in a specialized annual STEM Leadership Program.
To support the design and cultivation of STEM Learning Ecosystems across the country, selected Ecosystems will receive:
- Coaching: A team of STEM and cross-sector collaboration coaches will provide technical assistance individualized to the needs of each community. The initiative will evaluate each site’s specific needs, and TIES (Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM) will support the cultivation of each STEM Learning Ecosystem. A TIES consultant will act as the primary contact for the Ecosystem, maintaining contact through monthly calls, site visits, and more.
- Peer Mentoring: Through their participation in the National Community of Practice, a number of STEM Ecosystems members with a variety of STEM content expertise and leadership skills have been identified as mentors for emerging STEM Learning Ecosystems. They may work with the coach or the communities directly, depending on the need.
- Tools & Assessments: By participating in the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative, the selected STEM Ecosystems will have access to specially designed tools for cultivating STEM Learning Ecosystems. This includes the STEM Learning Ecosystems Indicators Tool, designed specifically for this Initiative.
- Resources: Through partnerships with leading STEM experts from industry, associations, research, government and philanthropy, participating STEM Ecosystems will have access to new reports, research and announcements related to STEM Ecosystems. This includes the STEM Learning Ecosystems Communications Toolkit, which includes a messaging framework and templates.
In addition to the National Community of Practice and TIES Technical Assistance, the STEM Funders Network STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative will:
- Support in understanding federal, state and local STEM policy, research and funding landscapes and assistance in building sustainability.
- AmeriCorps VISTA Members may serve select STEM Learning Ecosystems through a partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service and Afterschool Alliance. AmeriCorps VISTA projects generally have two main conceptual components: they (1) build the capacity of programs or organizations that (2) help individuals and communities out of poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA members are well-positioned to help communities develop, expand, and strengthen STEM ecosystem efforts by serving as a critical link to integrating STEM efforts within an ecosystem. (The availability of this additional AmeriCorps VISTA resource is not confirmed and will be dependent upon commitment from additional partners.)