Promoting Equity in STEM Education
Representation matters. Black professionals are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, while exciting opportunities in STEM careers continue to grow at a frantic pace. The CDF Freedom Schools® program is doing its part to help produce the next generation of leaders in STEM by introducing Black children to the wide world of possibilities in STEM careers.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Boeing Company, we’re bringing STEM to the CDF Freedom Schools program through a new initiative called CDF Freedom to STEM. We’re committed to building interest and proficiency in STEM among CDF Freedom Schools scholars, 74% of whom are Black. We will make it possible for our scholars to truly envision themselves in successful STEM careers.
We’ve expanded our CDF Freedom Schools curriculum to include culturally responsive STEM books and hands-on STEM immersion activities, which we’ll debut this summer. Through CDF Freedom to STEM, scholars will experience the joy and promise of a career in STEM.
The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is fighting to create educational opportunities for all children
CDF Freedom Schools
Rooted in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1964, the CDF Freedom Schools program provides summer and after-school enrichment through a research-based and multicultural program model that supports K-12 scholars and their families through five essential components: high quality academic and character-building enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational servant leadership development; and nutrition, health and mental health. CDF Freedom Schools supports scholars to excel and believe in their ability to make a difference in themselves and in their families, schools, communities, country, and world with hope, education and action.
CDF Freedom to STEM: Boeing Press Release
The Boeing Company’s investment will allow CDF Freedom Schools to build its STEM capacity and intentionally expose Black students to STEM, addressing the racial inequities that persist in access to high-quality STEM education. CDF Freedom Schools will integrate STEM into its curriculum by educating Servant Leader Interns (SLIs) on STEM inequity and its consequences as well as the best practices for successfully engaging Black students with STEM. Additionally, the CDF Freedom to STEM initiative will be incorporated into the program’s Integrated Reading Curriculum (IRC) and parents of CDF Freedom Schools scholars will be introduced to ways they can cultivate STEM literacy at home.
What is STEM?
STEM is an acronym referring to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Rigorous STEM education starting in elementary school prepares students to pursue careers in the natural, physical, and life sciences. This includes career pathways in subjects such as medicine, biology, agriculture, robotics, artificial intelligence, chemical engineering, telecommunication, and applied mathematics.
Each field offers a diverse range of specializations that lead to professions like Mechanical Engineer, Biochemist, Psychologist, and Software Developer.
Join the Fight
Through CDF Freedom to STEM, scholars will be affirmed in their ability to make a difference in the world through STEM and will envision the many possibilities of a STEM career.
Your gift today will ensure the hope and promise of their future is fulfilled.
Get to Know Black Leaders in STEM
A West Virginia native who began her scientific career in the Jim Crow era, Katherine Johnson was one of three Black students to integrate West Virginia’s graduate schools. In 1941, as the United States prepared for war, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that banned racial discrimination in the defense industry. As a skilled mathematician, Katherine was hired by NASA and quickly became an invaluable asset. She manually calculated the precise trajectories that allowed Apollo 11 to land on the moon in 1969.
Alicia Boler Davis
In the summer of 2020, Alicia Boler Davis became Amazon’s first Black woman Vice President. After graduating from Northwestern with a degree in chemical engineering, Davis began her career at General Motors (GM) as a manufacturing engineer. At GM, Davis was instrumental in engineering and designing a plan to manufacture the award-winning Chevrolet Sonic. The success of her work as an engineer led to a promotion and bolstered her public profile. At Amazon, she is responsible for a worldwide network of over 175 Amazon fulfillment centers that span across 16 countries.
Mae C. Jemison
In 1992, Mae C. Jemison became the first Black woman to travel into space. Before joining NASA’s astronaut training program, Jemison was a trained medical doctor and served as a Medical Officer in the Peace Corps. After a competitive selection process and rigorous training, Jemison flew into space aboard the Endeavour. Jemison was tasked with conducting numerous crew-related scientific experiments on the space shuttle as the Endeavour spent over a week orbiting Earth.
Kizzmekia Corbett has been credited as one of the National Institute of Health (NIH)’s leading scientists in the development of the science that could end the coronavirus pandemic. Corbett received a PhD in microbiology and immunology from UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2014, she joined the NIH Vaccine Research Center as a postdoctoral fellow. In 2020, she was instrumental to a team at the NIH that worked with Moderna, the pharmaceutical company that developed one of the two COVID-19 vaccines.
Bernard A. Harris Jr.
In 1995, Bernard A. Harris Jr. became the first Black astronaut to walk in space. Before becoming an astronaut, Harris completed his residency in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. After joining NASA and completing the intensive training required, Harris was given his first assignment aboard the Columbia space shuttle. He and crew member Micahel Foale walked in space in order to test the temperature resilience of their spacesuits.
Marcella Nunez Smith
An associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale, Dr. Marcella Nunez Smith has also been named the chairwoman for President Biden’s coronavirus equity task force. She is responsible for advising the President on how to allocate resources and reach underserved populations that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
A lead organizer for the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project that inspires the CDF Freedom Schools program, Robert “Bob” Moses went on to become President and founder of the Algebra Project. Moses holds a M.D. in Philosophy from Harvard and spent time teaching mathematics in Tanzania, East Africa as well as Mississippi. After receiving the MacArthur Fellowship in 1982, Moses created the Algebra Project, a program devoted to improving minority education in math. The focus on algebra is founded in Moses’ belief that the subject is a critical “gatekeeper” necessary for students to acquire in order to advance in math, technology, and science.
Dave Dennis worked closely with Robert “Bob” Moses as an organizer of the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project before attending the University of Michigan’s Law School. After reconnecting with Bob Moses in 1989, Dennis joined Moses to further develop the Algebra Project. The two men worked to extend the program into the public schools of the Mississippi Delta. Now, Dave Dennis maintains the position of director and CEO of the Southern Initiative of the Algebra Project. The Algebra Project’s unique approach to school reform is based in promoting productive parent and community involvement to develop models that are sustainable and focus on students.
Learn More about how CDF is Fighting for Education Equity
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