Strategy 8

Facilitate conversations with funders around support for equitable STEM programs and pathways.

Understand funding as a root cause of inequity in STEM pathways.

PCSPs often operate with minimal budgets and without the assurance of continued funding over a multi-year program period. Like the barriers of communicating PCSP value to admissions offices, this is another underlying cause of racial underrepresentation and inequity in STEM. 

As an ecosystem with broad reach and diverse membership from across your community, you can advocate for increased PCSP funding – particularly for programs that serve Black and Brown students in urban areas and meet other PCSP criteria.

Combine funding conversations with policy conversations.

As advocacy and funding often go hand-in-hand, consider how your conversations with policymakers can support the funding needs of your PCSPs and systems-level work. Use policymaker conversations to unearth new funding sources or ideas.
In their conversations with policymakers, the California STEM Network incorporated clear talking points about funding. They used these conversations to identify new funding sources and advocate for legislative and financial support of systems that support PCSPs. As a result, they secured additional state resources for expanded learning time (including before- and after-school and summer programs) in STEM as part of their state’s efforts to address COVID-19 learning recovery.

Identify additional funder contacts using targeted funding networks.

Funder networks or coalitions, like the STEM Funders Network or others founded around STEM or equity, are good sources for potential funder contacts. You can talk to the STEM PUSH Network’s cohort ecosystems about funders they’ve worked with in the past. In addition, think about funders who have supported broader college-going work in your area. Who has supported other types of college programs, such as those that assist learners with standardized test prep, financial aid, or application processes? You may be able to identify potential STEM funders by tapping into the college support system that often overlaps with PCSPs.

Host conversations with or make introductions between funders and PCSPs.

You can host conversations between funders and programs or make a warm hand-off to PCSPs to host conversations directly. In either case, the goal of these conversations should be to brainstorm or garner additional support for individual PCSPs or the collective of PCSPs in your region.

In the future, these conversations may expand to include funding for related projects, like ecosystem-specific NICs or a STEM PUSH alumni network.