The Partnerships in Equity, Access, and Representations in STEM (PEAR-STEM) project addresses inequities in preparation for STEM careers among K-12 students by attempting to identify ways to improve preparation among Black and Latinx students. University of Illinois psychology and engineering faculty partner with Champaign-Urbana community organizations and initiatives, the Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program, and specialists in public engagement and STEM teaching and learning to provide high quality, out-of-school STEM enrichment from kindergarten through high school.
The project aims to establish for long- term relationships by nurturing and maintaining strong, collaborative partnerships between the community and university.
Part of that collaboration involves providing out-of-school professional development for teachers based on the well-established Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering program and the insights of community partners. That training will help facilitate curriculum improvements.
Core to the project is an evaluation effort that will inform future development of the program, provide evidence needed for sustainability funding, and contribute to our understanding of how to improve greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM. The project will provide an example of effective community-based research that may help guide other pre-college STEM-equity initiatives nationwide.
The project is a collaboration between Dr. Pomerantz (Professor of Psychology), Lara Hebert (Grainger Engineering's Public Engagement Coordinator), Kenneth Hill and LaTina Taylor (Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering), George Reese (head of the Office of Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education in the College of Education), and Lynford Goddard (Director of the Institute for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access in Grainger Engineering). Major community collaborators include Tracy Dace (Driven to Reach Excellence and Academic Achievement for Males), Janice Mitchell (Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center), and Luis de Jesus Astacio (Cena y Ciencias) who lead social-impact community initiatives in Champaign-Urbana whose students and families will participate in the project's Saturday programming.