Career and College Exploration in Afterschool Programs in STEM

A high school diploma is no longer enough to get by in the current job market, and high-level knowledge, skills, and abilities are crucial to success especially in the fields of and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Afterschool programs are a critical component and lever to better prepare our youth for college and careers, providing opportunities to not only build academic and employer-desired skills, but also to expose youth to different opportunities and allow them to foster their own identities. Given racial and gender disparities in STEM fields of study and careers, afterschool programs are also crucial to ensuring equity for underrepresented and traditionally underserved youth populations. This article highlights the important role afterschool plays in preparing youth for college and careers in STEM fields, featuring the work of three high-quality STEM afterschool programs from across the country—Project Exploration, SHINE, and EVOLUTIONS. The article concludes with recommendations for programs leaders to promote more STEM learning.

This article is excerpted from a new resource, STEM Ready America: Inspiring and Preparing Students for Success with Afterschool and Summer Learning. To learn more about this new resource, visit their website at

The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF’s events and policy reports are made possible by the support of a consortium of philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.

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