The NeoStem Ecosystem reflects, projects, plans
“Once you have done the work to create the clear vision, it is the discipline and effort to maintain that vision that can make it all come true.” Angela Duckworth
Students in countless Northeast Ohio communities lack access to quality educational opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
With this basic premise, the NeoStem Ecosystem formed in 2014 to build environments that would provide students with resources for learning and growing in a world dominated by the need for an understanding of and facility with STEM.
Since 2014, we’ve been meeting, talking, thinking and working. The process has involved hundreds from throughout the region, including college professors, middle school teachers, artists, business and community leaders, non-profit administrators and those who lead out-of-school-time initiatives.
Together, we’ve identified projects and problems. We have a few victories like the autonomous Soap Box Derby project that will be rolling out in schools in the Fall and numerous other collaborations we’ve helped launch.
And the fact that we’ve endured as a group, with people of so many varying agendas and missions, is in and of itself, a success.
Yet, the work and the original mission of the organization looms large, pushing us forward and reminding us that our work has just begun.
The evidence – empirical as well as anecdotal – shows a black-hole of STEM access, usage and accomplishment in urban and many rural environments in our region. And it’s no surprise that impoverished neighborhoods are impacted the most.
Among Ohio students, the racial and socioeconomic achievement gap in schools is profound.
The wealthier a school district, the better the district tends to do on the annual school report cards released by the Ohio Department of Education.
This is not news. We’ve known for many years that income equates to opportunity.
Income also dictates aspirations.
A 2017 study by the Alliance for Science & Technology Research in America tracked students’ plans for their futures. For almost a decade, STEM has been a strong path for young white men in Ohio.
But Ohio’s females and minorities are considering STEM careers at drastically reduced rates than men. For instance, 42 percent of white men graduating in 2017 from an Ohio high school say they intend to pursue a career in STEM. Only 14 percent of the graduating women said they had STEM aspirations.
The study aggregated the female and male counts among minorities. For both African-American men and women graduating from an Ohio school in 2017, only 23.3 percent said they were interested in STEM.
The NeoStem Ecosystem has organized itself to continue tackling these crippling societal issues.
Our work ranges from small projects for specific schools or grades to wholesale initiatives intended to mobilize the region. We are partnering with Girls Who Code to help launch clubs throughout the region; we are sponsoring professional development workshops for teachers and so much more.
This work needs to be large. Too much is at stake.
In Northeast Ohio, many organizations recognize the need to address the decline in STEM performance in underserved neighborhoods.
The NeoStem Ecosystem does not seek to replace any of these organizations, but instead wants to encourage collaboration and data- and resource-sharing when possible.
We’d like you to join us and have numerous ways you can engage in the work.
From simply following our progress to signing on to work on a specific initiative, we need you.
At our recent year-end planning meeting, we outlined the various new initiatives we will be tackling as a group. Please see them here and also see details for how to join in. The next big meeting of the NeoStem Ecosystem will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Cleveland Foundation, but there will be countless conversations happening between now and then.
We need your voice, your energy and your ideas.