Boys & Girls Club awarded National Science Foundation grant

The Telegram

March 18th, 2019


The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, with clubhouses in Leominster and Gardner, received the news that its application to the National Science Foundation will receive grant funding to pilot and enhance its Career Launch program.

The enhanced career and workforce development program will be STEM CareerLaunch.

Increased exposure to STEM content and career pathways during out-of-school time contexts can significantly extend STEM learning and aspirational interests among middle and high school youth. Using a collective impact approach, the STEM CareerLaunch pilot project tests the feasibility of redesigning a widely used, national youth and career focused program for and by the National Boys & Girls Clubs of America to extend STEM learning and promote awareness, interest, and readiness for STEM-related occupations among youth.

STEM CareerLaunch integrates extant STEM programs, such as First Robotics, Girls Who Code and Jason Learning, with newly developed STEM content and opportunities to create and test a comprehensive STEM learning and career program for youth. The results of this pilot will inform a more expansive effort to bring STEM CareerLaunch to an already networked 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs, reaching more than 4 million youth from predominately underrepresented groups in STEM, and youth participating in other afterschool/summer program throughout the United States.

Approximately 100 youth and informal educators at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster will participate in this pilot feasibility study. A five-pronged approach will be instituted, including high quality out of school time STEM programming, connected STEM career education, mentorship, professional development for the informal educators, and incentives such as internships and field experiences for youth participants. The developmental evaluation will focus on program implementation, participant outcomes, and scale-up. Data collection methods will include quantitative and qualitative approaches such as baseline student data, project tracking logs, retrospective surveys, focus groups, staff interviews, and observations. A summative evaluation will also be conducted.

This endeavor is led by a collaborative partnership between the National Boys & Girls Clubs of America,

Mount Wachusett Community College, Fitchburg State University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s STEM

Center, Becker College, The Central Mass STEM Network, the Fitchburg and Leominster Public School Districts, the North Central Massachusetts and Nashoba Valley Chambers of Commerce, MIT, Harvard University, UMass HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital, and others.

STEM Career Launch is primarily funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. It is also co-funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers program which is committed to better understanding and promoting practices that increase students’ motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics (STEM).

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.