In 2022, the Steelcase Foundation and STEM Greenhouse engaged in a five-year $500,000 partnership to bring STEM Scholars 2.0, a wraparound STEM program to Innovation Central High School with the goal of developing a climate of inclusion in STEM and a culture of high academic standards and college expectations for all students.
STEM Scholars 2.0 builds on the progress of the Grand Rapids Area Pre-College Engineering Program (GRAPCEP), which prepared students for four-year college programs in STEM fields, and will provide accelerated learning opportunities, specialized programming, field trips and college visits, leadership training, summer learning opportunities and teacher and family supports to provide holistic supports to attract more students of color to STEM careers.
To embed this programming at Innovation Central, STEM Greenhouse will first work to integrate itself into the building so teachers and students see their commitment to a long-term vision of supporting STEM learning at Innovation. Their efforts will include providing exposure to STEM activities and career professionals so students can see individuals who look like them to envision themselves in these roles and learn about pathways for accessing these careers if interested. Principal Dr. Jason McGhee sees the program as an example of what’s achievable for his students saying, “It turns on the switch of hope for a lot of students, which for many is either off or it’s dim.” For students who hear it’s possible for them to enter STEM fields, actually seeing professionals who look like them and have had the same experiences of them working in these roles, shows them it’s a real thing they can achieve.
Dr. Keli Christopher, Founder and CEO of STEM Greenhouse, hopes the program helps students develop a love of math and science and while she recognizes not every student will become a STEM professional, she wants to remove fear and show students STEM careers are accessible to them if they choose to pursue them noting, “We’re trying to give them the tools they need to make their dreams come true.”
A unique aspect of the program is its support for teachers, Marcus Moore; STEM Scholar 2.0 Math Curriculum Specialist, works to lighten the load for teachers, collaborating on lesson plans, providing resources, and helping them know their work is important and valued.
STEM Scholars 2.0 will be housed in a state-of-the-art STEM lab, reflecting the high expectations placed on students in the program, and will include murals from Black artists and best-in-class technology and tools to provide a working science lab.
Dr. Christopher sees STEM Scholars 2.0 as an investment in our community noting, “We need these children. We need them to go into STEM careers. We’re doing everything we can possibly can to ensure kids are supported to succeed.” We’re so excited to follow STEM Scholars 2.0’s progress as it kicks off this fall and moves into its physical home at Innovation Central.