Editor's Note:This guest post comes from Dr. Allison Scott, Chief Research Officer of the Kapor Center, a nonprofit aiming to increase diversity and inclusion in technology.
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (also known as STEM) play a critical role in our society, touching every aspect of our lives. STEM occupations are among the fastest-growing and highest-paying, and contribute significantly to our nation’s economy. To get students on track for STEM careers, they have to start early: students who take advanced STEM courses in high school are much more likely to major in equivalent subjects in college and specifically, Black and Latinx students who take advanced Computer Science (CS) in high school are 7-8 times more likely to major in CS in college.
But unfortunately, access to advanced STEM and CS courses is not evenly distributed. Low-income students and students of color across California are less likely to have access to computer science courses than their peers, and as a result, students of color are underrepresented across every AP® math, science, and CS course in California. But we can change these trends.
With a $10 million contribution from Google.org, we’re launching the Rising STEM Scholars Initiative to increase the number of low income students and students of color in AP STEM and CS courses across the Bay Area. Through a partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools, UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, Kingmakers of Oakland, Donorschoose.org, we’ll collaborate with districts, schools, administrators, educators, students and families to place and support 3,000 students of color and low income students in Bay Area AP STEM and CS classrooms. The project started last year in 15 schools across the Bay Area. Within the first year, the number of Black and LatinX students taking AP STEM classes doubled.
The Rising STEM Scholars initiative will address the challenges in STEM and CS equity by providing data insights on equity gaps, coaching schools to address these gaps, and providing professional development opportunities for teachers. We’ll also provide money for educators to get resources for their classrooms and find ways to inspire students to take AP courses.
Students sitting in high school classrooms right now have the potential to become future leaders in fields from technology to education—they just need the opportunities to get there. Let’s ensure all students in the Bay Area have access to the classes they need to succeed. If you’re located in the Bay Area, help us spread the word to join the movement.