2023 STEM PUSH Network Convening: On the Equity Journey

March 8, 2023

The STEM PUSH Network is the first national collaborative of pre-college STEM programs to work together for racial equity.

STEM PUSH logo The STEM PUSH Network hosted a national convening of its 43 precollege STEM programs on the University of Pittsburgh campus, March 6-9. "On the Equity Journey," the 2023 theme, showcased research-practice connections and multiple speakers, discussions, design thinking activities, and events.

Program leaders presented the results of their winter 2022-2023 testing of high leverage practices designed to create more equitable experiences and explore ways to measure competencies students develop that lead to increased participation in STEM programs. Featured speakers included National Science Foundation (NSF) AISL lead Monya Ruffin Nash and Program Officer Alicia Santiago (virtual); Pittsburgh's "Learning Instigator" Michelle King; and Professor Aileen Reid, University of North Carolina Greensboro.

Jennifer Iriti, STEM PUSH Co-PI, and Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) Research Scientist, remarked, "We are thrilled to be able to host this group at Pitt and showcase the important systems-change work the Network is undertaking."

The STEM PUSH Network is the first national collaborative of pre-college STEM programs to work together for racial equity. It brings together professionals from STEM precollege programs, regional ecosystems, college admissions, and equity experts using a networked improvement community model to innovate more equitable practices in out-of-school time programming and in STEM undergraduate admissions.

Challenges program leaders tackled at the 2023 meeting were addressing inequities in accreditation systems and building an evidence-based model to make the talents and competencies of minoritized students more visible in admissions practices. Through research and collaboration, the goal of the Network is to leverage the power of pre-college STEM programs and the ecosystems in which they operate to increase the number of Black, Latina/o/e, and Indigenous students admitted to and persisting in undergraduate STEM study.

According to Iriti, it's necessary to think about alternative approaches to evaluating students and considering their overall portfolio of competencies for college admissions. "It represents a real opportunity for pre-college STEM programs and the STEM PUSH Network to show the potential value of considering the voices of pre-college STEM program leaders and the students themselves about their experiences," Iriti said in this STEM Ecosystems article.

The STEM PUSH Network is funded by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Eddie Bernice Johnson Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) Initiative, a comprehensive national effort to enhance U.S. leadership in discoveries and innovations by focusing on diversity, inclusion and broadening participation in STEM at scale. The network is also co-funded by the NSF Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program and the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program.

STEM PUSH is part of the larger Broadening Equity in STEM Center (BE STEM) at the University of Pittsburgh. Founded in 2019, BE STEM was awarded $10 million from the NSF as an elite Alliance Award.