Making Connections to Support STEM Transitions: Strategy 1

Leveraging a wraparound model to address holistic needs to support STEM learning and development

Strategy 1 for coordinating across settings is a wraparound model (i.e., cradle through career) that aims to bring cross-sector organizations together (e.g., Habitat for Humanity, WIC, career services, etc.) to address holistic needs of communities.

Why would you use this strategy?

Supporting transitions to STEM careers requires an approach that meets youth and families where they are and provides assistance from childhood through adulthood.

Who would use this strategy?

This is for networks/programs that need to support low-income populations with few easily accessible STEM opportunities (e.g., “STEM deserts”); rather than focus on isolated STEM experiences, this strategy takes into account the holistic needs of youth, families, and communities while making connections to STEM opportunities.

“What (our director) had in mind was to purchase the school and to bring in community partners and offer an office space so people could use this as a one-stop-shop and they wouldn’t have to do the runaround for resources.”

-Justin, Pocono Services for Families and Children

Coordinating Across Settings: Creating “A One Stop Shop” to Cultivate Community Networks at Pocono Services for Families and Children in PSAYDN

Pocono Services for Families and Children, a “Cradle through Career” Coordinating Center 

Effective coordination across settings enables young people to locate and use resources and opportunities offered by different yet connected programs within and beyond their communities (Ito et al., 2020). These coordination efforts require time, energy, and brokering relationships on the organizational level to support effective communication and coordination across different entities.

For Pocono Services for Families and Children (PSFC), a program affiliated with Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network (PSAYDN), a key driver of their approach is to support the youth and families they work with to access resources they need to “succeed and thrive” and by extension, improve their communities and quality of life through a wraparound approach (PSFC, 2020). To address the problem of practice this portrait surfaces –– namely, that accessing the many resources families might need at once requires movement between spaces, settings, and people –– PSFC aims to be “a single resource for family assistance that connects people they serve with multiple services and helps reduce the hassles associated with them” (PSFC, 2020).

In pursuit of this aim, which Justin, the School Age Lead at PSFC, described as part of a goal to “create larger networks and ecosystems,” PSFC opened The Mountain Center, which physically unites several nonprofit and social services under one roof.

Target Outcomes

Important Considerations

Draft mapping of Strategies

Draft Mapping Strategy

This brief is a product of research conducted in 2021-2022 within the Making Connections project, a collaboration between the Connected Learning Lab at UCI and STEM Next and their regional partners. This is one of eight strategies, which are still evolving, for coordinating and brokering connections across settings in STEM ecosystems.

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