How We Work

Innovation

BoSTEM

Reimagining STEM for middle school

BoSTEM is bringing high-quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities to every Boston middle schooler through an innovative citywide coalition of nonprofits, schools, researchers, and industry partners.

Convened by Boston Beyond and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, BoSTEM aims to close the opportunity and achievement gap for youth traditionally underrepresented in STEM through exciting, hands-on learning and career mentorship.

The problem we aim to solve

STEM industries are booming, but too few youth are being well-prepared for these rewarding future opportunities. Youth of color and women are especially underrepresented in STEM career pathways. In Boston, interest in STEM-related subjects drops sharply in the middle school years. By the time students reach high school, it can be too late to catch up on the foundational content.

BoSTEM is tackling this gap head-on: We’re harnessing the energy of Greater Boston’s burgeoning STEM sector and the city’s high-performing youth nonprofits to connect middle schoolers with meaningful, skill-rich experiences that inspire them to pursue STEM careers.

How it works

Because no entity can solve this education-workforce challenge in isolation, we’re creating a STEM learning ecosystem in Boston, uniting the capacities of multiple sectors to create meaningful STEM learning experiences during a critical juncture for youth. Our core collaborators include twelve high-performing youth nonprofits, the Boston Public Schools, and representatives from an array of local STEM companies and higher education institutions.

Who does what?

  • Nonprofits: Form the backbone of the initiative, directly serving youth through STEM-focused after school and summer programs.
  • Middle schools and district: Collaborate closely with nonprofits on curriculum alignment; host programming at school sites.
  • Industry partners: Provide engaging field trips and career mentors; advise educators on curricula and supply industry-aligned content.
  • Intermediaries: The United Way coordinates workplace field trips and facilitates employer-program partnerships; Boston Beyond convenes cross-sector learning sessions and provides targeted professional development, coaching, and evaluation services that help programs improve over time.

Together, BoSTEM partners are designing an array of exciting STEM learning programs that are inquiry-based, culturally sensitive, and aligned with both school curricula and the STEM career needs. Through hands-on projects, visits to workplaces, and connections with industry mentors, students develop a concrete sense of what it means to work in these industries. Already, we’re seeing significant increase in students’ reported interest in STEM careers and the skills they’ll need to succeed.

BoSTEM By the Numbers

  • ~25 learning sites per season
  • > 1,500 students (grades 6-8)
  • 60% of students express a strong interest in pursuing a STEM career.
  • 49% of staff indicated positive changes in students’ social-emotional behavior.
  • 57% of students indicated increased engagement.
  • 75% of students indicated improved relationships with supportive adults.

BoSTEM Partners

Breakthrough Greater Boston
Citizen Schools
CitySprouts
Community Boat Building
Courageous Sailing
East Boston Social Centers
HMS MEDscience
Latino STEM Alliance
Mass General Hospital Youth Programs
Sociedad Latina
Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center
West End House

Camp Sites

Fablevision
3Point Foundation
South Boston Neighborhood House
YMCA of Greater Boston
Zoo New England