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Boys & Girls Clubs of America Releases White Paper on Advancing Underrepresented Youth in STEM during Out-of-School Time

White Paper Summarizes Key Insights from STEM Great Think Roundtable Discussion and Outlines BGCA’s Position on Progressing STEM Education in Clubs Nationwide


Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) released a white paper today on how out-of-school time (OST) providers can inspire more youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Entitled “Advancing Underrepresented Youth in STEM During Out-of-School Time,” the white paper summarizes key insights from BGCA’s STEM Great Think, which convened more than 80 key stakeholders from higher education, government, corporations and nonprofit organizations at Oracle earlier this year.

According to statistics shared by experts at the event, STEM education is critical to the future success of young people as STEM jobs in the United States are expected to grow nearly twice as fast as other fields by 20181. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of both interested and adequately prepared K-12 students in STEM subjects, especially among minority youth and young women.

“The opportunity gap in STEM education is likely to widen unless organizations develop pathways for more underrepresented youth to succeed in STEM careers,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO of BGCA. “Research has shown that out-of-school programs advance STEM knowledge and increase interest in these careers. OST providers like Boys & Girls Clubs have an opportunity and responsibility to help more young people, especially those who need us most, develop passion for and aptitude in STEM.”

BGCA’s STEM Great Think focused on the role that the OST environment—after school and summer—plays in closing the opportunity gap within STEM education. Roughly 8.4 million children participate in OST programs each year, many from populations that are underrepresented in STEM fields and careers2. In fact, African-American, Asian-American and Latino households are most likely to participate in OST STEM programs3, and girls attend after-school programs in equal numbers to boys4.

As discussed by the STEM Great Think participants, the white paper outlines how OST providers can inspire more underrepresented youth in becoming the innovators and problem-solvers of tomorrow:

  • Develop Strategic Partnerships Across the Youth Development Ecosystem — OST providers must step into their role as conveners—bringing together schools and educational institutions, corporations and government—to build greater capacity and support for innovative STEM programs.
  • Embrace the Identities of Digital Natives and Expand Access to Cutting-Edge Technology and Resources — OST providers must embrace the reality of today’s young people, or digital natives, and curate the best available technologies that can be incorporated into programming and scaled to youth across the country. Such technologies include online videos, mobile applications, games, social media channels or 3-D printers.
  • Invite High-Skill STEM Volunteers and Experts to Become Part of the OST Community — High-skill STEM volunteers and experts could offer trainings to OST staff and serve as excellent youth mentors, showing them pathways to success.

In response to the key insights from the STEM Great Think participants, the white paper also outlines BGCA’s position on advancing STEM education in Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide:

  • Introduce iSTEM — Called “iSTEM,” BGCA’s cross-disciplinary approach channels young people’s natural curiosity into the design process inherent in the arts, empowering them to create new solutions to real-world challenges.
  • Leverage STEM-Related Content Providers — It is essential that Clubs connect with STEM-related content partners, and the content provided by partners must emphasize computational mastery since math is critical to success in STEM.
  • Change Young Peoples Relationship with Technology — BGCA seeks to encourage young people to analyze the challenges in their communities and create their own technologies and innovations to address them - becoming the makers and drivers of technology.
  • Develop an OST STEM Learning Framework — First, BGCA must create a STEM youth development approach that puts members on a continuous developmental journey from childhood to high school graduation. Second, Clubs can foster 21st century skills development through project-based learning.
  • Reimagine Club Spaces as “Centers of Innovation” — With support from partners, BGCA is reimagining Clubs spaces as “Centers of Innovation” to reflect an emphasis on innovation and creativity. Today’s Clubs should infuse modern technology into every learning space.
  • Expand STEM Learning Over the Summer — There is a monumental opportunity to expand STEM learning over the summer, and BGCA’s Summer Brain Gain program is one example of how Clubs are helping to close the opportunity gap in STEM among underrepresented youth.

Hosted by Oracle Chairman Jeffrey O. Henley and moderated by Retired President of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division Robert J. Bach, the cross-sector STEM Great Think panel included Babette Allina, director of government relations, Rhode Island School of Design; Pat McCarthy, executive director, ExxonMobil Foundation; Dr. Michael Nettles, senior vice president of Policy Evaluation & Research Center, Educational Testing Service; and Dr. Damon A. Williams, senior vice president of Program, Training & Youth Development Services, BGCA. Supporting partners of the STEM Great Think included Comcast and NBCUniversal, Dell, Dow, Entertainment Software Association, ExxonMobil, Noyce Foundation, Oracle, Samsung, Symantec and Time Warner Cable.

As a result of the STEM Great Think, BGCA will meet with its STEM Advisory Council to develop an outcome-driven plan for securing strategic partnerships that advance iSTEM education in the OST space. Feedback from STEM Great Think participants and all interested parties is encouraged at as BGCA seeks to engage more underrepresented youth in STEM and set them on the path to successful careers.

To read or download the STEM Great Think white paper, please visit

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America

For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America ( has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,100 Clubs serve nearly 4 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at and

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