The Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative was formed with support from the Noyce Foundation and the Chicago Foundation for Women as a year-long, community-based effort to survey out-of-school (OST) time programs and consider the ways in which education institutions, businesses and city services could cooperate to build and support equitable and accessible pathways into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for Chicago’s young people.
Our work continues today guided by our leadership team and with the support of our funders. Learn more about our work and read our reports on the resources page.
Scroll through the timeline below for highlights of our history.
The Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative began in 2011 as a community-based effort in which stakeholders from across Chicago’s youth development and funder communities wrestled with critical questions about access and equity in STEM out-of-school time (OST) programming:
- Who is being served and who is not?
- How many opportunities are available, where and when, and what content is being offered?
- How can organizations cooperate to keep young people involved with STEM?
A city-wide survey in 2012 was launched to understand the landscape of STEM OST opportunities for high school youth.
The findings from the year‐long study were presented at the State of STEM in Out‐of‐School Time in Chicago Conference in December 2012 with support from Chicago HIVE Learning Network, Motorola Mobility Foundation, After School Matters, and the Illinois Institute of Technology.
The findings are:
- Many STEM opportunities exist.
- Access is unequal.
- Timing & location might be a problem.
The State of STEM in Out-of-School Time in Chicago Report is released, providing a set of data-informed recommendations and an action plan to enable diverse young people to get, and stay, involved with STEM experiences from kindergarten through college.
The report was supported by the Noyce Foundation and the Chicago Foundation for Women.
In response to the data, the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative was formed, with Project Exploration serving as the backbone organization to this collective effort.
The Cooperative was selected to join the STEM Funders’ Network STEM Learning Ecosystems initiative, an effort aimed at galvanizing cities across the U.S. that are building STEM learning ecosystems. The STEM Co-op joins in a nationwide network of cities and organizations committed to expanding STEM learning and workforce opportunities.
Today, the STEM Co-op is a collaborative effort aimed at addressing inequities in the STEM learning landscape for all youth along the learning continuum, early childhood to career.
Its work is guided by the premise that access to high-quality, in-school and out-of-school STEM experiences can provide a strong foundation for success in adulthood and support civic, college, and work readiness (Banks et al., 2007; Bevan et al., 2010; Fenichel & Schweingruber, 2010; Krishnamurthi et al., 2014; National Research Council, 2009; National Research Council, 2015).
The STEM Co-op represents sectors throughout the city, including civic institutions, OST program providers, Chicago Public Schools, colleges and universities, STEM corporation and business industry leaders, funders, government entities, and existing learning networks.