NYSCI has launched a new initiative to create a partnership between the museum and the communities it serves most directly with the creation of NYSCI Neighbors. Co-designed with educators, parents and school administrators from the communities neighboring NYSCI, NYSCI Neighbors aims to create an ecosystem for improving STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teaching and learning by developing new programs and engagement strategies to address unmet needs voiced by community stakeholders.
“NYSCI Neighbors will engage children and families in creative STEM learning, develop resources for teachers and students, build out-of-school STEM opportunities, and support STEM learning for high school and college students,” said Margaret Honey, president and CEO of NYSCI. “The program also aims to increase participation among Queens students in STEM focused high schools and AP courses, as well as broadening participation in programs created by NYSCI’s Alan J. Friedman Center for the Development of Young Scientists.”
NYSCI announced NYSCI Neighbors during a meeting of the STEM Ecosystems Initiative in Washington D.C. led by the STEM Funders Network, which earlier this year announced more than $20 million in funding to 27 inaugural communities, including the NYSCI Neighbors network. The STEM Ecosystems Initiative has a goal of reaching 600,000 teachers and students in its first three years. The convening brought together a growing community of practice of local leaders who are expanding STEM opportunities in their communities. The education, business and community leaders who participated also met with White House officials to discuss equitable STEM education and federal STEM policy.
In the initial phase of NYSCI Neighbors, NYSCI is engaging in conversations to determine the community’s most urgent priorities for STEM education services. Gathering perspectives from educators, school administrators, parents, community leaders and other stakeholders, NYSCI Neighbors will engender broad-scale, cross-sector collaborations to nurture and scale effective STEM learning opportunities for young people. In early 2016, NYSCI will form an advisory board and host a series of activity and feedback sessions that will determine the blueprint for projects to be undertaken in subsequent years.
NYSCI Neighbors will be led by Andrés Henríquez, who has joined NYSCI as vice president of STEM learning in communities. He brings a broad expertise to this position, having worked previously as a program officer at both the National Science Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York where he launched a national program to develop the field of adolescent literacy and also was a key contributor to the National Research Council’s Framework for K–12 Science Education, and the funding of Achieve Inc. to develop the framework-aligned Next Generation Science Standards. Earlier in his career at the Center for Children and Technology (CCT), he was part of the community transformation in Union City, N.J., where he lead a partnership between Bell Atlantic and the Union City Schools, culminating in Union City receiving national recognition when President Clinton and Vice President Gore acknowledged the extraordinary accomplishments of the school district, which ultimately became the model for a five-year, $2 billion program to put computers in all U.S. classrooms.
“I’m excited to be joining NYSCI in this endeavor to implement high-quality and high-engagement STEM programs into this community that has such high aspirations for their children,” said Henríquez. “This collaborative effort will allow us to take the best of what we know about STEM education and the needs of the future workforce. It’ll be so gratifying to build on the work that I’ve done in research, policy and practice and my experience with foundations locally and around the country.”
NYSCI Neighbors is made possible with the generous support of The Simons Foundation.