Our Vision

With a diverse group of partners, the STEM PUSH Network is working to create systemic change in the postsecondary admissions process by reinventing the relationship between pre-college STEM programs and higher education admissions offices.

About Our Network

STEM PUSH is forming the first a national network of pre-college STEM programs. These programs are connected into STEM pathways within regional communities through STEM Ecosystems.

The STEM PUSH Network, an NSF INCLUDES Alliance, is a national network of of pre-college STEM programs, STEM, culturally responsive pedagogy experts, formal and informal education practitioners, college admissions professionals, the accreditation sector, community STEM leaders, and other higher education representatives. STEM PUSH 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 STEM programs to admissions offices.


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.


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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.

What are Pre-College STEM Programs?

Pre-college STEM programs (PCSPs) offer a solution because they enable students to participate in enrichment and research experiences that share analytical and critical thinking skills and habits-of-mind that increase STEM exposure, engagement and self-efficacy.

Many PCSPs are successful in attracting and retaining underrepresented minoritized (URM) high school students. However, PCSPs have not been leveraged to increase the number of URM students admitted to undergraduate STEM programs.

Provide experiential learning opportunities

Introduce STEM disciplines​

Create pathways for further study​

Connect to relevant institutions and organizations​

Strengthen broader impact opportunities​

Create mentorship opportunities​

What are Ecosystems?
How will they play a role in the STEM PUSH Network?

STEM Learning Ecosystems provide the architecture for cross-sector learning, offering all young people access to STEM-rich learning environments so they can develop important skills and engagement in science, technology, engineering and math throughout preK-16.

Strong STEM Learning Ecosystems feature dynamic collaborations among schools, out-of-school time programs, STEM expert institutions (such as museums, science centers, institutions of higher education and STEM professional associations), the private sector, community-based organizations, youth and families.

A learning ecosystem harnesses the unique contributions of all these different settings in symbiosis to deliver STEM learning for all children. Designed pathways enable young people to become engaged, knowledgeable and skilled in the STEM disciplines as they progress through childhood into adolescence and early adulthood.

Local and regional STEM ecosystems will serve an important role as members of the STEM PUSH Network by helping to identify pre-college STEM programs (PCSPs) in their urban area and connecting PCSPs involved in the STEM PUSH Network with equity-focused higher education institutions, educational organizations, and corporations committed to broadening the participation of underrepresented groups.

Local and regional STEM ecosystems will also provide opportunities for STEM PUSH Network participants to share their learning with the entire local or regional ecosystem to deeply infuse and locally spread the work of the participating PCSPs and build recognition of the work and its value to higher education admissions and other PCSPs that are not participating in the Network Improvement Community (NIC).

As the accreditation process develops, local and regional ecosystems will help to brand the process with higher education institutions to create market demand for both PCSP participation and institutionalization in admissions.