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So I think that that’s critically important and it’s important for us to really look for what are the successful programs because we’ve got very limited resources. So make sure we’re making investments in the right places.”

Vince Stewart describes the STEM Push Network as a Community of Practice within the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, and he’s a part of both. Based in the Bay Area, Stewart is on the ground in one of the four metropolitan communities in which STEM PUSH is working: San Francisco, Pittsburgh, New York, and Chicago.

Stewart hopes that the STEM Push Network project brings validity to the promising, but unquantified, benefits that pre-college programs can give to students. “I hope that pre-college programs will be able to answer the question, ‘are we preparing more students from underrepresented groups to enter college and pursue STEM majors? And if we are, what are the successful models or are or programs to achieve that outcome?’”

Stewart says we have to “make sure we’re making investments in the right places.” He recommends finding the “critical components or elements of a successful pre-college STEM program”, such as funding, resources, outreach and recruitment, to be able to assess and replicate the best models.

Stewart also acknowledges that not all pre-college programs are created equal. In the Bay Area, “there are some programs that are more designed to expose students to STEM majors, disciplines and fields of study. Other programs are more focused and limited in terms of the students that they serve. They have prerequisites for participation. Given the range of design that we have, there isn’t a standard model. And they’re designed differently. They’re funded differently. They’re operated differently. Some are run by colleges and universities and individual campuses. Others are done through nonprofit. It’s a pretty diverse community.” Stewart sees it as imperative that the most successful programs are made accessible as well as replicable. “And once you answer those, how do you see the network and the work helping to support marginalized students access to higher education?”