Pre-College STEM Programs

Pre-college STEM programs (PCSPs) connect students with the scientific community by engaging in high-quality STEM content that is often not available in schools. 

STEM PUSH partners with PCSPs to remove barriers to undergraduate admissions for underrepresented students so that they can continue their STEM journeys in college and beyond. 

The Future Needs a PUSH

As of 2018, Black students earned only 7% of STEM bachelor's degrees, while Latina/o/e students accounted for only 12%.
Black workers represent only 9% of those in STEM occupations. Representation is even lower at just 5% in some STEM jobs areas like engineering and architecture.
The STEM workforce representation gap is especially large for Latina/o/e adults. Latina/o/e workers make up 17% of employment across all occupations, but just 8% of all STEM workers.

What are Pre-College STEM Programs?

STEM PUSH pre-college STEM programs (PCSPs) are established intensive (100+ hours of programming), STEM-focused, out-of-school-time program intentionally serving Black, Latina/o/e, Indigenous, and other underrepresented racially minoritized high schoolers through practices that center equity and prepare students for undergraduate STEM.

Students receive significant training in STEM practices as well as other supports such as college-going mentoring.

Why Pre-College STEM Programs (PCSPs)?​

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

Many PCSPs are successful in attracting and retaining Black, Latina/o/e and/or Indigenous high school students. However, PCSPs have not yet been leveraged to increase the number of Black, Latina/o/e and/or Indigenous students admitted to undergraduate STEM programs.

gene team

Benefits of Pre-College STEM Programs

Capacity to Fill Equity Gaps

The students who participate in PCSPs reflect the diversity of Urban ecosystems

Unique Perspectives

PCSP faculty, staff, and volunteers represent various backgrounds, STEM journeys, and areas of expertise

Provide experiential learning opportunities

Students learn STEM by actually doing STEM

Introduce STEM disciplines​

Students are exposed to STEM topics and activities beyond what they experience in school

Create pathways for further study​

PCSPs build a foundation of transferrable skills, habits, and knowledge that are long-lasting

Connect to relevant institutions and organizations​

PCSPs can provide connections to other STEM programs and Higher Ed institutions

Strengthen broader impact opportunities​

PCSPs can be a direct link to current research, connecting students with the STEM community

Create mentorship opportunities​

Relationships formed in PCSPs can help guide students in their STEM journeys. Mentors can be peer leaders, college students, or other members of the STEM community.
Students at Mesa Day
Photo Courtsey of MESA

PCSPs work closely with high school students and have a unique perspective on students’ STEM competencies that could be potentially useful to admissions offices.

Terrell Galloway

Exposure Matters

“As a ninth grader in high school, I had never seen a Black engineer. I didn’t even know they existed. I mean, I knew they existed, but it was really hard for me to think that was obtainable for myself since I had never seen it.” -Terrell Galloway, Graduate, University of Pittsburgh, Mechanical Engineering Major

How Programs Are Impacting Students:

Pre-College STEM Program Partners

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Arizona MESA at University of Arizona

Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) is a school based outreach program designed to increase access to Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pathways and encourage college readiness for low-income, minority or first-generation college-bound students in grades 6-12.

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Art Harper Saturday Academy

Stevens Institute of Technology is committed to creating pre-college programming that will lead to greater diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The Art Harper Saturday Academy, which began in Fall 2019, is a multi-year program that will reach out to high school students from under-resourced communities who are interested in pursuing college majors and careers in STEM related fields.

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Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health’s Health Science Academy

The Health Science Academy (HSA) at the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health is a STEM health science enrichment, after school pipeline program that prepares underrepresented students to succeed in college health science courses. The Academy, HSA’s 3-year high school program, provides advanced educational opportunities to high achieving students. The Academy is offered in partnership with SUNY, Health Sciences University (SUNY-HSU). SUNY-HSU provides the physical resources to hold weekly anatomy & physiology classes & labs.

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Bridge 2 Life Digital Content Creators

B2L’s fundamental goal is to close the equity gap for post-secondary attainment at a systems level, while exploring and piloting interventions to help students in the here and now.

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Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM)

BEAM creates a series of experiences for students in grades 6-12: a 6th grade summer program in Los Angeles and New York City; a 7th grade residential summer program on college campuses; advising from 8th-12th grade to help students attend great high schools, pass algebra in 8th grade, access other enrichment programs, and ultimately go to a great college.

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Careers in Science Intern Program at California Academy of Sciences

Careers in Science is a multi-year, year-round, paid internship and youth development program for San Francisco high school students who come from communities underrepresented in STEM, including girls and students of color.

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Case Western Reserve University Provost Scholars Program

The Provost Scholars Program is a partnership between Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), East Cleveland City Schools, and Ginn Academy. The program matches high school students (Provost Scholars) with CWRU faculty and staff mentors as well as undergraduate and graduate student tutors to support and improve academic and career outcomes for the Provost Scholars. The program also provides weekly University Intensive Seminars, field trips, large-scale research projects, summer programming, and family support through the monthly Parents’ College at Case.

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The CSU East Bay MESA College Prep Program supports students to develop their confidence, competence, and love of STEM by building a community that fosters curiosity and exploration. Led by the Institute for STEM Education, CSU East Bay MESA assists East Bay middle and high school students, who have been historically excluded in STEM fields, to excel in math and science and go on to college in math-based majors.

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CSUDH Upward Bound Math-Science

The Upward Bound Program (UB) at CSUDH offers a wide network of support services that help ensure academic and personal success for 185 first-generation, low-income students. Upward Bound is designed to increase high school retention and graduation rates of underrepresented students. The program also strives to enhance participants’ potential for acceptance to and graduation from four-year universities and professional schools.

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CSULB MESA College Prep Program

Funded by the State of California and donations from private industry, the Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) program serves low-income and educationally disadvantaged students at the pre-college and college levels. The CSULB College of Engineering offers the MESA Schools Program (MSP), which partners with Los Angeles area middle and high schools to prepare students to attend college, and the MESA Engineering Program (MEP), which provides non-remedial academic support to matriculated college students.

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Everglades EcoExplorers at Museum of Discovery and Science

Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS), in conjunction with the Everglades Foundation and Broward County Public Schools, has created an internship called Everglades EcoExplorers. The program provides internships for students entering grades 10 – 12 from Fort Lauderdale High School Dillard 6-12 School, Stranahan High School, A 40-hour Summer Training Field Study Program

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Gene Team at University of Pittsburgh

The Gene Team aims to engage students in current research in Biological Sciences and provide college preparatory mentoring. Our goal is to increase participation in biological research from groups that are historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math.

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Group Summer Scholars Research Program at Kean University

The GSSRP is a hands on research experience aimed at attracting and developing talented students who are interested in pursuing an education in a STEM field. Participants work alongside faculty and staff on cutting-edge research projects in Analytical Chemistry, Scientific Visualization, Cancer Biology, Machine Learning, Developmental Biology and Modern Drug Discovery. By the completion of the programs, participants gain valuable technical skills and research experience, learn to work as part of a research team, develop a true appreciation of the scientific research process, and contribute first hand to the acquisition of new scientific knowledge.

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Hillman Academy at University of Pittsburgh

The Hillman Academy is an immersive mentored research program for a diverse group of high school students at the University of Pittsburgh.

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HIT in the CLE

HIT in the CLE is a collaborative comprised of industry professionals and educators who are passionate about working with students to achieve promising futures in Northeast Ohio’s IT industry.

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ICE-T Project at Citizen Science Lab

In this initiative of The Citizen Science Lab, Black/African-American High School Youth will learn the computational and experimental techniques required to examine the physiology, biochemistry, and voltage potential of microbial fuel cells (MFC), a living battery made powered by bacteria. Once participants learn the basics they will then build and create their own device powered by these living batteries.

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Imagine Your STEM Future at University of Arizona

The Imagine Your STEM Future Program pairs female engineers from Raytheon and female students and their allies from the University of Arizona with high school students at Desert View High School. Mentors commit to participate in the program for an entire school year, providing the opportunity to build sustained, robust relationships with students. The Imagine Your STEM Future program is integrated into the school day in order to increase accessibility for student participants and takes place 3-4 days per week. The curriculum includes a combination of hands-on STEM activities, reflective group conversations on STEM academic and career pathways, the importance of diversity in science and engineering communities, and visits from inspiring STEM role models.

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Ionosphere Aviation Program at Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County provides numerous programs that help Club Members learn about different career fields, gain valuable skills and experience team work. The Ionosphere/Aviation program teaches Club Members at the Nan Knox Unit ages 10+ about aviation principles and a career in aviation.

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Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program at Arizona State University

Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program (JBMSHP) students participate in a 6-week residential summer program and take a college-level mathematics or computer science course for college credit. Students also learn about academic success topics and get mentored in transitioning to college. All expenses are paid by ASU.

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Native American Science & Engineering Program at University of Arizona

NASEP is a year-long program designed to provide Native American, Alaskan Native, and Hawaiian Native high school students with a vision of a career in a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) field; connects students with academic professionals and industry representatives from STEM-related interests; and catalyze the student’s motivation to complete chemistry, physics, and pre-calculus before graduating high school.

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Nature Museum TEENS at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Participants in the Teenagers Exploring and Explaining Nature and Science (TEENS) program conduct urban ecology and environmental science investigations, study the nature found in our city’s parks, neighborhoods, and forest preserves, and participate in habitat restoration and other ecological stewardship activities. Teens contribute data to existing local, regional and global research projects and work in teams to develop their own research questions to investigate.

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New York Hall of Science’s Science Career Ladder

NYSCI’s Science Career Ladder engages high school and college students in meaningful work experience while exposing them to a wide array of STEM career and college pathways. The SCL program serves youth that are often underrepresented in STEM fields.

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Oregon MESA at Portland State University

Oregon MESA equips teachers to help underserved middle and high school students excel in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) through hands-on invention education. With our programs, more marginalized and low-income students not only graduate from high school, but also enroll in post-secondary studies and enter the workforce with STEM, 21st century and invention skills — fueling the innovation economy with diverse, talented leaders.

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Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Young Naturalists

Young Naturalists is a five-week paid internship for high school students to study ecology, gain outdoor work and leadership experience, and collaborate with a diverse cohort of other students. Students explore a range of themes and perform research and restoration in an urban park in Pittsburgh, PA.

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Project Exploration

Project Exploration is a Chicago-based nonprofit science education and youth development organization launched in 1999 to address inequities in access to high-quality STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) opportunities in out-of-school time.

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Rocky Mountain MESA at Colorado School of Mines

Rocky Mountain MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) is a low-cost program designed to increase access to Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pathways and encourage college readiness for low-income, minority or first-generation college-bound students in grades 6-12.

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Science Career Continuum at Chicago Botanic Garden

The continuum begins with the Garden’s Science First and College First programs that annually recruit up to 60 middle-school and high-school students from Chicago Public Schools. A free summer science immersion program—combined with paid internships and mentoring for high-school students—improves these students’ overall academic performance and puts them on a path to college. More than 98 percent of College First graduates attend two- or four-year colleges.

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Science Research Mentoring Program at American Museum of Natural History

The Science Research Mentoring Program (SRMP) at the American Museum of Natural History is an opportunity for New York City high school students to conduct one year (August–June) of scientific research with Museum scientists. In SRMP, high school students get paid to learn how to conduct research.

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At USC Viterbi’s Summer High School Intensive in Next-Generation Engineering (SHINE) students can join a USC Viterbi professor’s research team for seven weeks to discover how engineering addresses our real world problems in various fields including biomedicine, robotics, aerospace and more. Each student works with an assigned professor as well as a mentor (Ph.D. student or post-doctoral researcher) dedicated to training that student in experimental lab work or computational research – learning by doing not by studying. Each student works on authentic, immersive lab projects within their choice of cutting-edge research in order to learn through experience, transforming good students into confident, capable contributors to high-impact research.

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STAR Lab: Students Taking Advantage of Research

STAR Lab is a collaboration between SARSEF and the University of Arizona Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology that provides mentorship, consultation, research supplies, and lab space for high school students to complete their own authentic research projects.

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STEAM Pathways at Northeastern Illinois University

The continuum begins with the Garden’s Science First and College First programs that annually recruit up to 60 middle-school and high-school students from Chicago Public Schools. A free summer science immersion program—combined with paid internships and mentoring for high-school students—improves these students’ overall academic performance and puts them on a path to college. More than 98 percent of College First graduates attend two- or four-year colleges.

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The Coding School

We focus on skill building and workforce development in technologies that are going to change the world over the next decade, such as Quantum Computing, Artificial Intelligence, and Big Data. With a commitment to accessible, supportive computer science education, we offer learning pathways and programs for individuals at every stage of their STEM journey, including: K-12 students and educators, community college and university students and faculty, and members of the workforce.

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The Cooper Union STEM Outreach Program

Summer STEM at The Cooper Union offers 3 and 6 week programs in design, engineering and hands-on problem-solving for 9th through 11th grade students.

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UCSF High School Intern Program

Each summer, SFUSD high school students conduct original research under the direction of a UCSF scientist mentor. This program is rigorous and intense with just eight short weeks for students to complete their research projects.

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Urban Coders Guild

Urban Coders Guild exists to develop a tech talent that includes underserved, underrepresented, and otherwise under resourced communities. We exist to equip Black and brown with a confidence, level of comfort, and sense of community as they navigate their learning journeys. We exist to promote multiple pathways to successful careers in tech, including traditional colleges and universities as well as vocational schools, bootcamps and apprenticeships.

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At USC MESA, we keep a close connection to former MESA students, who are now current USC students. Our MESA College Prep graduates work to help current MESA students achieve their academic dreams too.

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Women in Natural Sciences at Drexel University

Women In Natural Sciences (WINS) is a free after-school and summer science enrichment program at the Academy of Natural Sciences serving young women from underrepresented communities and households facing financial limitations within the Philadelphia School District.

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