North South Foundation

The North South Foundation’s STEMulate Initiative

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Bill Nye once said “You can change the world!” While his statement was meant in the scientific sense, that is exactly what the North South Foundation’s STEMulate Initiative aims to achieve – one U.S. child at a time. Students in underserved areas fail to engage in STEM education due to a lack of resources, role models, and among minorities, relatability. Additionally, they later lose confidence in pursuing STEM because of a lack of grounding in critical fundamentals. The North South Foundation has a 30-year track record of reaching students in economically challenged, underserved areas in India. Our Foundation has honed coaching techniques, practice material, self-study, and mock contests to help students move from novice to national champion over time. We intend to show U.S. students that our academic model can be both fun and effective in cementing the critical fundamentals necessary for a future in STEM.

Problem Statement

Gone are the days in which manual labor could provide sustainable wages for most American people. In fact, at the time of this writing, an increasing number of jobs in the United States require proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In spite of this prerequisite of STEM, disparities still run rampant in this prosperous nation, precluding access to STEM education for many children. Millions of children go without key STEM offerings in school. The majority of children living in these “STEM Deserts” are in the nation’s highest poverty schools, where 75% or more of the students qualify for free or reduced price lunch.The dramatic downstream impact of these STEM deserts is threefold:1. The future of these individual students will be adversely impacted. Their livelihoods will be in jeopardy, likely permanently.2. The future of the communities will be adversely impacted. Already poverty-stricken areas will stand no chance of getting out of their plight.3. The future of the United States could be at risk. While the U.S. has been known historically for its technological prowess, each STEM desert threatens the sustainability of this advantage.The way to alter this doomsday forecast is to bring water to the STEM desert, in the form of interesting, engaging, foundational building blocks which create an understanding of, and underpinning in, STEM knowledge.

Solution Overview

The North South Foundation has a long-standing, committed volunteer base of hundreds of individuals with strong STEM backgrounds, always on call. Our academic contests, which have been administered for decades in developed and developing communities, help identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses through our tech platform’s analysis and reporting capabilities. The contests often don’t “feel” like a test because of the energy surrounding the academic contest. In the United States, self-study materials are available based on contest results, and online coaching is offered as well. For the 100,000+ Indian students we support, where self-study may be less of an option, the Foundation works through their teachers. They use our training manuals, videos, color-coded analytics and dashboards to help individual students in group settings. Students learn the material and contest scores improve.The STEMulate Initiative will use the same technology platform, contests, analytics and self-study material to reach teachers and children in economically disadvantaged and underserved parts of the United States.Success will be measured, month over month and year over year by:1. Same school metrics –individual student scores in our contests, and each target school's aggregate scores2. Standardized tests – students’ state math exam scores in target school districts3. STEM interest – percentage of students in each target school who pursue STEM classes before and after participation in STEMulate4. STEMulate interest – percentage of students who participate in voluntary/self-study components of STEMulate activities5. SAT/ACT scores – target district average student math scores will be measured

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