The future needs a PUSH

Pathways for Underrepresented Students to HigherEd

With a diverse group of partners, the STEM PUSH Network (Pathways for Underrepresented Students to HigherEd) is working to create systemic change in the post-secondary admissions process by reinventing the relationship between pre-college STEM programs and higher education admissions offices.

Leading the charge, the BE STEM Center will build the first national alliance of pre-college STEM programs to increase college enrollment for minoritized students.

BE STEM was created to support the work of the University of Pittsburgh’s National Science Foundation (NSF) INCLUDES team. The INCLUDES team was awarded $10 million from the NSF as an elite Alliance Award to conduct this work.

The goal of the Alliance is to increase the number of ethnically and racialized underrepresented students who are admitted to, matriculate and persist in post-secondary STEM.

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Successful Student

Addressing the Problem

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Successful Students
Diverse representation is critical to bringing rich ideas and innovation in our world and solving some of society's most pressing problems.
It is critical to understand the underlying problem that moves our work – students from specific racial and ethnic groups continue to be underrepresented in STEM majors and fields. The STEM PUSH Network seeks to directly address this fundamental problem and improve equity.

  • According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010 only 14.7 percent of STEM bachelor’s degrees were awarded to underrepresented minorities (URM).
  • Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math jobs, relative to their presence in the overall U.S. workforce, particularly among workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • According to the National Academy of Sciences, without the participation of individuals of all races and genders, the increasing demand for workers in STEM fields will not be met, potentially compromising the position of the United States as a global leader.

  • Many universities are responding by offering pre-college programs that can increase the preparation of ethnically and racially minoritized students for and success in undergraduate STEM programs. These programs enable students to participate in enrichment and research experiences that impart analytical and critical thinking skills and habits-of-mind that increase STEM exposure, engagement, and self-efficacy.

  • While many pre-college STEM programs (PCSPs) are successful in attracting and supporting ethnically and racially minoritized students, these programs have not been systematically leveraged to increase the number of URM students admitted to undergraduate STEM programs.
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About Our Network

STEM PUSH will form a national network of pre-college programs and STEM Ecosystems.

The STEM PUSH, an NSF INCLUDES Alliance, is a national network of of pre-college STEM programs, STEM and culturally responsive pedagogy experts, formal and informal education practitioners, college admissions professionals, the accreditation sector, and other higher education representatives. It is establishing a powerful collaborative improvement space using the networked improvement community (NIC) model and a “next generation” accreditation model that will serve as a mechanism for communicating the power of precollege programs to admissions offices.

Currently, there are 17 pre-college STEM programs and 4 ecosystems – the goal is 40-45 PCSPs and 10 urban ecosystems.

The STEM PUSH Network will initially work in four urban STEM Ecosystems (New York City, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and the Bay Area). This is the first initial cohort. Together these partners are positioned to affect transformative change in post-secondary admissions.

The expansion plan is rooted in the STEM Learning Ecosystem Community of Practice (SLECoP) model. SLECoP is a network of more than 90 ecosystems across the nation. SLECoP will identify six additional urban ecosystems during the project, based on factors that consider the number of STEM PCSPs, university partners and enthusiasm to expand the work.

Our Strategic Plan

In forming a national network of pre-college STEM programs - including STEM ecosystems, higher education institutions and culturally responsive pedagogy experts - the STEM PUSH Network seeks to:
  • Establish and support a national pre-college STEM program networked community;
  • Develop a standards-based pre-college STEM program accreditation system to broaden participation in STEM;
  • Test and validate the model within a networked improvement community, and
  • Spread, scale, and sustain the model through our backbone organization, the STEM Learning Ecosystem Community of Practice.
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Network Voices

“There's no current way for college admissions representatives to account for the large scale value pre-college programs add because there's so much variability among programs. And so this work is important because it's designing a way for these out-of-school time programs that are so valuable to actually have weight and value in college admissions decisions.”

Alison Slinskey Legg, The STEM PUSH Network, co-director, BE STEM Center, University of Pittsburgh
“So, the [STEM] exposure piece is important, but also just having that peer-to-peer network, having mentors and people who look like them to look up to as part of that learning experience is what makes pre-college STEM programs important.”
Julius Moyos
Julius Moyo
Manager of Explainers, New York Hall of Science and Current, Program Director, Posse Los Angeles
“We wanted to make sure that we use this funding, which is focused on low income and first generation students, to promote the interests of students in the STEM fields--but also to make it impactful so that they could become productive citizens and develop this self-worth of who they are and what they do.”
Aaron Cortes
Aaron Cortes
Director of STEM Initiatives, Center for College Access and Success, Northeastern Illinois University
“So I think that that’s critically important and it’s important for us to really look for what are the successful programs because we’ve got very limited resources. So make sure we’re making investments in the right places.”
Vince Stewart
Vince Stewart
Executive Director, California STEM Network Co-lead, Bay Area STEM Ecosystem
“As a former INVESTING NOW student, it is kind of full circle for me. I now have the opportunity to work with the STEM PUSH Network team on an initiative that promotes pre-college STEM programs and formally recognizes the amazing work that they do.”
Dominique Briggs
Dominique Briggs
Project Manager, STEM PUSH Network, University of Pittsburgh