Unleashing the Potential of Careers in STEM for St. Louis Youth

Each year, the National Benevolent Association invites congregations and ministries to apply for a Mission & Ministry Grant. These grants are reserved specifically for projects that will impact older adults as well as historically excluded youth and young adults. Below is a story from a grantee who received funds for their work in 2022.

Over the past several years, educational institutions, science labs, and tech companies have begun to acknowledge the lack of diversity and inclusion in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. Historically, women, Black, and Hispanic people have been underrepresented in these fields according to Pew Research data. This revelation has caused higher education institutions, nonprofits, and other organizations to consider how to combat this problem. One solution: introducing diverse communities to STEM projects and careers at an early age.

Aware of these challenges and underrepresentation, Unleashing Potential (UP) in St. Louis, Missouri applied for a Mission & Ministry in fall 2021 to help support their 2022 Experience STEM program. The goal of the program is to advance social-emotional competencies, interest, engagement, and proficiency in STEM. Like all of UP’s programs and initiatives, Experience STEM was designed to also serve as a safe place for children to learn, grow, and build their confidence in new topics.

Experience STEM provided hands-on learning opportunities for elementary and middle school students. While the goal was to introduce participants to different facets of the STEM field through science projects, and presentations from community members who worked in STEM, participants also walked away with a renewed confidence in their skills to understand science and math topics in school and parents noticed their children had better work habits and were more interested in learning new topics.

“The NBA enabled UP to prepare the groundwork to expand our STEM program to Middle School Students,” says Jennifer Wood, Program Director of Experience STEM at UP. “We were able to provide high-quality STEM education and ensure school grade readiness and advancement in under-resourced communities.”

Are you interested in receiving grant funds for your health and social service project? Consider applying for a Mission & Ministry Grant here