If you know me, you know that I've worked in education for almost 30 years, in settings across the country including a museum; elementary schools in North Philadelphia; one of Pennsylvania’s first charter schools; several Bay Area independent schools; and an Oakland public charter founded by Governor Jerry Brown.
Experiencing the breadth of education in the US and beyond led me to start a nonprofit called MakeKnowledge in 2017. I saw that we could create ecosystems of opportunity — creating and scaling positive impact and hope where systems are not working well today. Now we’re excited to share our work and stories with you, and invite you to support us as we scale up our two important projects. These projects both carry huge potential for impact in education — nationally and globally.
The first project we’re leading is called STEM++. STEM++ aims to radically increase the number of underrepresented students persisting along STEM /STEAM pathways from childhood to career. In the United States, far too many underrepresented students, including black and Latinx students and girls and young women from many backgrounds, are kicked off STEM pathways because their educational landscape is littered with big obstacles. While tech companies have started to recognize their workforce diversity challenges, there's still too little shared understanding about what happens to students in the K-12 years that informs their choices and their success.
This is a huge problem, because to tackle any of the big challenges in our communities, and around the world, we need everybody. To solve any one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, for instance, we need diverse and interdisciplinary teams of STEM-powered thinkers and doers. This is certainly true for a problem as large and complex as climate change. We know that climate change disproportionately affects communities at the margins—whether on island nations in the Pacific, or in communities in the continental United States. We have a special responsibility to empower students in these communities to design solutions.
Our STEM++ work has three facets: knowledge, research, and community. One of the exciting research pieces we are working on is our current STEM autobiography project that we're working on with Stanford's Graduate School of Education in 2019.
Maybe now—after supertyphoon Haiyan having wreaked havoc in the Philippines, fires in California that shut down Bay Area schools and universities for days in a row, massive flooding on the East Coast—climate change may be getting some of the attention it has begged for in the last thirty years. But what can education do? We believe that schools, teachers, and students have vital roles to play not only understanding the climate crisis and its causes, but also in designing solutions that address the crisis and its manifold environmental and human effects.
The Global Climate Changemakers project started this September around the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. We’re working on educational gatherings on both coasts in the next year, and launching some powerful collaborative projects that will help students and schools start to take ambitious local action, while connecting with others around the globe.
Building a Sail to Catch the Wind
Both of these projects have the potential scale up to create incredible impact, not only for the schools and students that participate, but for the good of our communities at large. Our short term goal is to raise $50,000, which will move the work forward on both fronts, and begin to build a base to attract sustainable support and partnerships. In other words, we are “building a sail to catch the wind.”
Please help us with your gift -- whether $5000 or $50 or another amount that makes sense for you.