The STEM Starter Academy is an initiative of Massachusetts community college 15 campus system to inform, engage, recruit, retain and graduate significantly more students through STEM Pathway programs leading to job placement or transfer to university STEM programs and careers. The STEM Starter Academy initiative complements and extends curriculum pathway programs on our campuses that are aligned to competency expectations of employers in high-demand STEM fields and others.
Initially proposed by Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, this program received $4,750,000 in funding in the FY14 budget which was renewed in the FY15 budget. This funding is supporting outreach to prospective students who previously may not have considered STEM careers, exploratory courses and activities that inform students of exciting and rewarding career opportunities in STEM fields, summer bridge programs that prepare incoming students for success in rigorous STEM coursework, and an array of support services to ensure student retention leading to higher rates of program completion.
The STEM Starter Academy will support best practices of existing community college projects currently underway while helping to build these programs into an aligned system of student support services/activities that complements emerging models of structured STEM curriculum pathways. These programs will benefit students who have a high level of interest in STEM majors and careers, but who are not yet fully engaged. This framework of articulated student supports and complementary curriculum pathways will provide a model for student success that is easily recognized and highly valued for predictable outcomes.
Many, if not all, campuses have implemented elements of a framework to inform, recruit, retain and graduate more students in STEM programs. However, the STEM Starter Academy will help to address gaps, promote alignment and build capacity to meet unaddressed student needs and to refine the model of articulated student support services and structured STEM curriculum that will promote: