State of the Field

At STEM Next we want all young people to access great science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning, in and out of school.

A robust STEM workforce is critical to addressing the country’s and world’s pressing challenges and keeping our economy strong. And with STEM skills, our young people can choose their path to rewarding and successful careers, where skills are in great demand, earnings are high, and unemployment is low. Between 2008 and 2018, the number of jobs in STEM fields is projected to grow by 17 percent vs. 10 percent for all US jobs. Of course, not everyone will become a STEM professional. But STEM skills will help all kids become critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers, and rational decision makers, preparing them to be the successful leaders, parents, and citizens of tomorrow.

Great STEM learning is happening in many different places – schools, afterschool/summer programs, science museums, libraries, youth and community centers, and STEM businesses, and in many different ways – in real time, and anytime, anywhere. But not all kids have equal access to these learning opportunities. How can we meet the challenge of expanding – and improving – STEM learning?

Championing STEM learning

  • Defining and expanding national and local thinking on the possibilities of STEM learning; spotlighting and ensuring that good work in the field is getting attention;
  • Developing an evidence base to make meaning of and disseminate outcomes of STEM learning programs and systems; using data and persuasive messaging to educate policymakers to inform and align effective policy; and
  • Leveraging work of current grantees through stories of change for youth, programs and systems that can help them advance and sustain the work of the field.

Cultivating collaboration in STEM learning systems building

  • Infusing quality STEM learning into existing state and local systems;
  • Building scalable collaborative models for STEM learning across organizations and sectors; and
  • Developing capacity within existing organizations at scale.

Strengthening STEM learning

  • Building the skills and knowledge of professionals and volunteers;
  • Establishing and strengthening tools and systems to assess quality of programming and youth outcomes;
  • Helping the field identify and access quality programming, professional development, and assessment tools; and
  • Creating new ways for young people to demonstrate increased confidence and abilities.

Catalyze investment to expand opportunities in STEM learning

  • Helping current grantees identify a mix of public funding streams and private support to sustain their STEM efforts;
  • Advising funders in ways that align investments with major initiatives and key needs of the field; and
  • Developing and supporting collaborative partnerships with and among private and corporate funders to advance STEM learning.

STEM Next is engaging learners everywhere by:

  • Every Hour Counts

    Students today need more ways to learn so they are prepared for college and career. But the young people who most need additional learning opportunities are least likely to have them. Every Hour Counts is a coalition of citywide organizations that increase access to quality learning opportunities, particularly for underserved students. Our approach — called an expanded-learning system — coordinates the work of service providers, public agencies, funders, and schools, so dollars stretch farther and more young people are served. The result: students with better attendance, grades, and test scores; stronger work habits; and more positive social behaviors.
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  • Imagine Science

    Four of the nation’s largest youth development organizations – the Boys & Girls Club of America, the National 4-H Council, YMCA of the USA and Girls Inc. – have formed a multi-year partnership to jointly tackle the challenge of engaging under-represented youth in STEM learning. This groundbreaking new partnership is called Imagine Science.  The goal of Imagine Science is to collaboratively bring STEM programming to community-based sites across the nation at times and places where options are typically limited. By 2020, Imagine Science will inspire millions of under- and un-served youth to engage in STEM through new, high quality informal stem learning opportunities never before offered to them.

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  • STEM Funders Network

    The STEM Funders Network (SFN) is comprised of a diverse mix of more than 20 education-focused private and corporate foundations who are working together to increase the knowledge and expertise of grantmakers investing in STEM, leverage their collective resources, and collaborate on high-impact projects they could not undertake alone. SFN’s vision is that every young person have an equitable opportunity to engage in high-quality STEM learning experiences that will enhance their ability to succeed in a STEM career or other chosen path.
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  • Science Friday

    Covering the outer reaches of space to the tiniest microbes in our bodies, Science Friday is the source for entertaining and educational stories about science, technology, and other cool stuff. For 25 years, Science Friday has introduced top scientists to public radio listeners, and reminded them how much fun it is to learn something new. They produce award-winning digital videos, original web articles, and educational resources for teachers and informal educators on All of their work is independently produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the public’s access to science and scientific information.
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  • PEAR—Program in Education, Afterschool & Resiliency

    PEAR's mission is to create and foster school and afterschool settings in which all young people can be successful. PEAR takes a developmental approach to the study of new models of effective afterschool programming, and has lead the formation of the Dimensions of Success observation tool (DoS) and the Common Instrument Suite. DoS defines twelve indicators of STEM program quality in out-of-school time and allows researchers, practitioners, funders, and other stakeholders to track the quality of STEM learning opportunities while pinpointing strengths and weaknesses. Separately, the Common Instrument Suite is a simple, easy to administer survey for youth 10 years or older that includes 10 self-report items to assess child and adolescent interest, engagement, persistence and skill development in STEM programs.
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  • STEM Learning Ecosystems

    Supported by the STEM Funders Network, the STEM Learning 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. The 27 communities selected in 2015 from across the United States for the initial cohort of a national Community of Practice have demonstrated cross-sector collaborations that will create new models for delivering 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. STEM Next serves as the home of the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative.
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  • Charles Stewart Mott-Noyce Foundation STEM Partnership

    Since 2009, the Noyce Foundation has made significant investments in statewide afterschool networks to develop statewide systems to support informal science in afterschool. The Noyce Foundation began to formally collaborate with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in 2012 to leverage their investments and
 build off the existing network infrastructure in order to expand 
the availability of quality STEM in afterschool and summer and impact more students across the country. Through this joint venture, 27 states are working to build STEM state systems. This continued investment builds a solid foundation for states to sustain the work beyond the two foundations through public and private state investments along with the incorporation of informal science within larger STEM learning efforts.
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  • 2015 Afterschool STEM Summit

    Hosted by the Noyce Foundation and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the inaugural Afterschool STEM Summit brought together leaders from STEM industries, higher education and afterschool organizations, policymakers and philanthropists from all 50 states with a focus on nurturing existing public-private partnerships, and generating new ones. Participants explored new and creative solutions to the challenge 
of expanding afterschool STEM learning for all young people. Speakers included Dr. Jo Handelsman, Associate Director of Science, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Dr. John King, Acting Secretary of Education; Victor Cruz, NY Giants; Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH); Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20); Rep. Katherine Clark (MA-5); Rep. Christopher Gibson (NY-19); Elaina Watley, Victor Cruz Foundation; Jim Gordon, Group Vice President of Corporate Brand and Reputation, Time Warner Cable; Maggie Johnson, Director of Education and University Relations, Google; Diana Oo, Senior Director of Global Public Policy, Comcast NBCUniversal; Kevin Washington, CEO and President of YMCA of the USA; Reginald McGregor, Manager, Engineering Employee Development, Research & Technology Strategy at Rolls-Royce Corporation; Nona Carroll, Program Director, Maryland Business Roundtable for Education; Colleen McCreary, Managing Director, CCKPartners; State Sen. Adam Morfeld (NE); and Jodi Grant, Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance.
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  • Click2SciencePD

    Click2SciencePD is an interactive, just-in-time professional development site for trainers, coaches, site directors and frontline staff/volunteers working in out-of-school time STEM programs serving children and youth. The foundation of Click2Science is its 20 Skills to Make STEM Click, based on established frameworks and standards that are essential to help staff and volunteers without a STEM background facilitate quality STEM experiences effectively in out-of-school time settings.
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  • The Power of Explanation: Reframing STEM and Informal Learning

    This multimedia MessageMemo is directed toward leaders and advocates to provide them with practical messages and tools for making the STEM education case, especially for out-of-school time STEM learning. The MessageMemo creates an evidentiary base to identify the most effective ways of communicating about STEM education. The strategies detailed here have been tested for their ability to improve and deepen public understanding about STEM learning in both informal and formal education contexts and increase support for key reforms in this domain. The memo summarizes an extensive body of empirical research that shows the power of a robust explanatory communication strategy in deepening public understanding about STEM in both informal and formal contexts. This research was conducted by the FrameWorks Institute and sponsored by the Noyce Foundation.
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  • Afterschool STEM Hub

    The Afterschool STEM Hub is a collaboration among afterschool leaders and stakeholders to provide coordinated messaging and communications that impact advocacy and policy and help ensure the important place of afterschool programs in the STEM learning ecosystem. Led by the Afterschool Alliance, the STEM Hub is funded by the Noyce Foundation. It includes the following members: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, ExpandED Schools by TASC, PEAR—the Program in Education, Afterschool and Resiliency, Techbridge, OregonASK, National AfterSchool Association, National 4-H Council, National Girls Collaborative Project, Association of Science-Technology Centers, Indiana Afterschool Network, Girls Inc., Every Hour Counts and the Exploratorium.
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