Afterschool programs around the nation have enthusiastically embraced science, technology,engineering and math (STEM). Some major afterschool providers, like 4-H and Girls Inc., have long mad eSTEM a priority and in recent years, the vast majority of providers have also come to value providing STEM learning opportunities as an important part of their programming. An Afterschool Alliance poll of afterschool programs conducted in 2010-2011 showed that 99 percent of respondents thought that offering some sort of STEM programming was important, even if that wasn't the focus of their program.
As interest and commitment to STEM learning in afterschool grows, there is an increased need for support to build the capacity of afterschool programs to offer innovative and robust STEM programming. The Afterschool Alliance poll of afterschool programs also asked respondents to describe what supports they saw as most essential. Unsurprisingly, funding was ranked as the highest need, but a close second was a desire for partnerships with STEM professionals and STEM-rich institutions, as well as more opportunities for professional development.
This issue brief illustrates the power of strong, successful partnerships between afterschool programs and STEM-rich institutions. Additionally, the partnerships described offer promising and innovative models that can have a significant impact on both students and their instructors.