learn / 2016

STEM Advantage: Today's students, tomorrow's innovators!

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by STEM Advantage

STEM Advantage mentors, prepares and inspires young women and underserved communities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math through paid internships, mentors and scholarships.


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

STEM Advantage has partnerships with the computer science and engineering departments at California State University (CSU) Dominguez Hills, CSU Los Angeles (Cal State LA) and CSU Northridge (CSUN)., Plus we have partnerships with a growing list of leading companies in the Los Angeles area that provide paid internships, mentors, and/or financial support for STEM Advantage Scholarships. Companies include Toyota, Farmers Insurance, CBS, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Avery Dennison and others.

Please describe your project proposal.

STEM Advantage’s 360-degree program provides students attending a public university the type of support that many students attending a private university receive, including internships, mentors, scholarships, career panels, access to and networking opportunities with business and technology executives and hiring managers. STEM Advantage aims to level the playing field for young women and underserved communities attending California State University (CSU) campuses in the Los Angeles area.

Which of the learn metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • College completion
  • College matriculation rates
  • Student education pipeline
  • Youth unemployment and underemployment

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • South Bay
  • County of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to learn?

California employers report being unable to find qualified candidates in STEM. With more than 1 million new STEM jobs on the horizon, STEM Advantage addresses this skills shortage by focusing on underrepresented talent. Women, African Americans and Latinos comprise only 20% of the STEM workforce, yet are projected to make up 70% of the total workforce by 2017.

Our 360-degree program provides students attending a public university the type of support that many students attending a private university receive, including internships, mentors, scholarships, career panels, access to and networking opportunities with business and technology executives and hiring managers. STEM Advantage aims to level the playing field for young women and underserved communities attending the California State University system. In 2012 we launched our program at CSU Dominguez Hills. Undergraduate enrollment is 55% Latino, 20% African American and 70% women. In 2014 we expanded to Cal State LA (60% Latino). In 2016 we added Cal State Northridge.

Board members use their contacts to open doors for students who have the talent, but don’t have the opportunity and network. Over 30 companies participate including Avery Dennison, CBS, Farmers Insurance, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Toyota.

STEM Advantage makes LA a greater place to learn as we mentor, prepare and inspire STEM talent. We want businesses to think of Los Angeles as a hub for STEM talent and a reason to keep/locate their businesses in LA! Focus areas:

1) Grow flagship STEM Advantage Scholars program at CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU LA and CSU Northridge. Expand to CSU Long Beach and Cal Poly Pomona. Scholars say the program is “life changing” as it provides opportunities they never thought possible and builds their confidence. Most receive job offers over $55,000.

2) Provide mentors to STEM students at CSU campuses beginning their Freshmen year to increase retention, especially of women, African American and Latino students, in a STEM major. Fewer than 50% of students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field complete a STEM degree; the majority switch to non-STEM majors during their first two years of study. By increasing retention we can have a significant impact on the number of STEM graduates and develop a diverse skilled workforce. Plus we build a talent pipeline to participate in the flagship STEM Advantage Scholars program.

3) Galvanize STEM Advantage Scholars and Alumni to “pay it forward” as role models and mentors to excite young people, especially girls and minorities, that STEM is cool and encourage and inspire them to pursue their dreams. We can have an exponential impact on diverse STEM talent as we build pathways with programs that focus on K-12. Many STEM Advantage Scholars are women and students of color. Young people will see someone who “looks like them” and be able to relate because they have similar backgrounds. There’s a saying ‘if I can see it, I can be it’.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

We use both formal and informal metrics to measure outcomes, learn and refine our program to grow and scale to support more students and CSU campuses.

Formal measures include: 1) # of applicants 2) # of STEM Advantage Scholars selected 3) # of students served through career and personal development workshops 4) % of Scholars hired into a STEM field within four months after graduation 5) Average starting salary for STEM Advantage Scholars 6) # of sponsors

Informal measures include: 1) Student feedback, including frequent communication with applicants, Scholars and alumni 2) Internship feedback, including communication with sponsors, supervisors and talent leaders 3) Mentor feedback, plus we are developing an electronic survey 4) University feedback, including communication with CSU Department Chairs and Deans. 5) Ability to attract future university partners

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Staff
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support