Developing a strong workforce pipeline for STEM careers and advanced manufacturing benefits the entire community. Community-based organizations (CBOs) can be a critical link to help you inform and connect with students and their families. They can make connections between the experiences students have while attending community programs and the work you are doing with them in school. They can also help you learn a bit more about the families you want to reach and the best way to work with them.
CBOs expand student experiences through after-school and summer programming as well as supporting in-school activities that align with their missions. Many students perceive CBOs as safe options that can provide culturally relevant activities. These may be the places where students have their first experience with careers in advanced manufacturing or exposure to STEM more broadly. They welcome partners to help them design programming that can be engaging and informative for their students, so they are usually happy to collaborate with you. Organizations like the Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, Girls Inc., US FIRST, Destination Imagination, YMCA, churches, community centers, city or county parks and recreation departments, museums, maker spaces, and others are good places to start. Introduce yourself and offer to provide engaging programming to their students or campers. If your activities are successful and students enjoy them, you will soon find you are a welcome visitor and partner.
Community engagement and support of career development initiatives can be a critical element to success. Take advantage of CBOs that share your passion for exposing young people and adults to advanced manufacturing and STEM career pathways. Using CBO resources and programs and engaging the community can help lighten your load and create outstanding partners to provide your students with a deeper experience and critical information about advanced manufacturing careers. These partners are great conduits to connect you to young people and adults, so you can expose them to your program or pathways and eventually inspire them to enroll.
Many CBOs offer after-school and summer informal STEM education opportunities. Here are a few examples to get you started.
- The Making Foundation – After School program at the Maker Mart https://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/After-school-activity-in-Roanoke-gives-students-interest-in-manufacturing–412940383.html
- Girls Scouts – Find a council (https://www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl-scouts/join/council-finder.html)
- Boys and Girls Clubs- Find a club https://www.bgca.org/get-involved/find-a-club
- Girls Inc. – Find a Girls Inc. https://girlsinc.org/find-girls-inc/
- US FIRST – Start a Team https://www.firstinspires.org/
- Destination Imagination – Learn more at https://www.destinationimagination.org/
- YMCA – STEM at the YMCA http://www.ymca.net/STEM