Expanding the K–16 Pool of Potential STEM Graduates

From 2004 through 2006, AIR worked with the National Science Foundation's Models Institutions for Excellence (MIE) grantees to expand its distinguished science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) training and recruitment efforts to the K–12 arena by providing technical assistance for the establishment of community-based K–16 partnerships led by the MIE.

Student using a microscopeFormally named “Expanding the K–16 Pool of Potential STEM Graduates,” the project sought to be a capacity-building initiative and catalyst for a national dialogue on underrepresented minority male achievement. The goal was to develop school, community, and business partnerships to broaden the enrollment of minority students, especially minority males, in STEM at the postsecondary level and to create a partnership model for strategic and sustainable change.

Building K–16 partnerships between Model Institutions for Excellence and K–12 school systems is a natural opportunity to leverage the substantial NSF and NASA investments in these institutions. By developing partnerships, a greater yield or return to these investments can be obtained by extending the momentum of success that the MIEs have generated for underrepresented minorities in STEM.

In this report, we begin by sharing data and research on the problem of minority male achievement and the narrow pipeline to STEM. We discuss the MIE Program and why it is ideally poised to lead the Expanding the K–16 Pool effort. In the second section of the report, we discuss AIR’s technical assistance approach and partnership development activities over the course of the grant. In the third section, we discuss overall and MIE site-specific program outcomes including the lessons learned by the MIE sites throughout the process of planning a K–16 partnership. In the fourth section, we share the challenges and successes faced by AIR as the technical assistance provider. In the final section, we offer recommendations for future work should NSF choose to continue its support of the Expanding the K–16 Pool initiative.