Youth Development and Science Mentoring Initiatives

Project Exploration has created a model for community based organizations to follow in regards to mentoring middle and high school students in science. A Chicago based nonprofit science education organization, Project Exploration’s mission is to make science accessible to the public—especially minority youth and girls—through personalized experiences with science and scientists. Project Exploration targets students who may not already be academically successful, but are curious, open indeed, and passionate. The science programs offered by Project Exploration are starting points for long-term programming. After getting students interested in science, Project Exploration focuses on keeping them interested and building their capacity to continue that interest. The organization has had significant impact on supporting students through high school and towards STEM careers: 96% of Project Exploration students have graduated high school; 61% have gone onto a four year college; and 34% of all students and 43% of all women are majoring in science. Project Exploration specifically recruits students who are historically underrepresented in science professions—women and minority groups, in particular those from low income backgrounds; 81% of program participants are female, and 19% are male; 73% are African American, 25% Latino, 1% Caucasian, and 1% Other. By focusing on, and showing success with, these populations Project Exploration is addressing critical issues facing STEM education today: inequality of opportunity, lack of diversity, and workforce development.