Strategy 7

Facilitate conversations with policymakers to advocate for equitable STEM pathways and supportive policy levers.

Partner with local or state governments to launch a targeted initiative, campaign, or proclamation around STEM learning pathways.

Try to determine who the key points of contact for STEM education are within your city, county, or state. How can you frame and communicate STEM PUSH and related work to them?

The Pittsburgh Regional STE(A)M Ecosystem connected with the STEM contact in their governor’s office to share about STEM PUSH and get a better understanding of how – and to what extent – the administration prioritized college access issues. It also allowed them to learn more about other organizations, projects, and groups doing similar work and where gaps may exist. It was an important first step in assessing the greater landscape around college access and equity in their state and laid a foundation for future policy conversations.
Before joining the STEM PUSH Network, the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative began mapping out-of-school service providers in the Chicago area as a way to see how learner interests, career aspirations, and current STEM program offerings aligned. Thanks to this project, Chicago’s mayor enlisted the ecosystem to help lead 2020’s My CHI. My Future campaign. The campaign’s goal was to connect every young person in Chicago to meaningful summer learning opportunities and mentorship. This effort ultimately helped Chicago-area PCSPs build more robust, interconnected STEM pathways that could provide youth with continuing opportunities.

Balance formal and informal conversations.

Once you feel established in your relationships with PCSPs, higher education partners, and the STEM PUSH Network, begin scheduling briefings with state or federal policymakers and their staff. Prioritize meetings with those who have expressed a prior interest in education, equity, STEM, or workforce-based issues. 

Don’t underestimate the power of informal conversations. Look for opportunities to connect briefly with policymakers and staff at other conferences, convenings, and events.

Thanks to the policy and advocacy roots of their parent organization, the California STEM Network leveraged existing relationships with policymakers to have both formal and informal conversations about STEM PUSH and support for systems that can strengthen ties between PCSPs and admissions departments. When meeting with policymakers, they always highlight the work of their PCSPs and constantly look for opportunities to advance their efforts through state and local policy.

Experiment with broader outreach to local, regional, and state policymakers.

The New Jersey STEM Pathways Network plans to issue a mailing and/or press release to local legislators to share the work they’ve accomplished or are currently working on as part of STEM PUSH.