Despite STEM being taught in and out of schools, only about 10 percent of children ages five to 17 have access to consistent and robust STEM programming, which is imperative to creating science enthusiasts and increasing interest in STEM careers.
Imagine Science is a collaboration of four leading national youth organizations—the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Girls Inc., National 4-H Council, and the YMCA of the USA—and the STEM Next Opportunity Fund. Collectively, these organizations aim to implement high-quality, out-of-school STEM programming in communities around the nation. The goal of Imagine Science is to provide prolonged, informal exposure to STEM, increasing a child’s interest and building a foundation for proficiency through high school and beyond. Fifty-eight percent of students served by Imagine Science are girls, 90 percent are children of color, and 83 percent come from low-income households.
Over the past year, Imagine Science has attracted four new sites to begin planning, increasing the total number of Imagine Science sites implementing programs across the country to 15 in 2023, and up to 21 in 2024. Imagine Science sites are selected based on a number of factors, including the number of under-represented youth that lack access to high-quality STEM programming in the area. Imagine Science is also working on a new strategy to amplify its impact by developing resources on collaborative best practices in out-of-school STEM to offer youth organizations outside of its immediate network.
In Imagine Science communities, STEM programming is high-quality and enriching, often connecting young students to science and STEM in engaging and relevant ways they would have been unlikely to otherwise experience. Post-program surveys conducted by PEAR Institute show that 71 percent of students demonstrate an increase in STEM engagement following participation in an Imagine Science program.
Overdeck Family Foundation’s funding and capacity-building support have catalyzed the growth of Imagine Science, helping the organization expand its ability to provide summer and afterschool STEM opportunities to new communities and support existing communities to self-sustain by deepening their understanding of best practices in collaborative fund development. Additionally, the Foundation has supported Imagine Science to continue its research on STEM engagement outcomes, which will help position it to better scale evidence-based STEM practices through established youth development organizations.