At its 17th annual conference on Wednesday, Oct. 12, the Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC) honored the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) STEM Leadership Team and Omaha’s Citywide STEM Ecosystem as a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award Exemplary Project. This recognition honors colleges and universities that have redesigned their learning, discovery, and engagement missions to become even more involved with their communities.
UNO’s interdisciplinary, 21-faculty-member STEM Leadership Team has worked with more than 30 community partners and businesses, along with Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, and is now establishing a Citywide STEM Ecosystem organization to address Omaha’s STEM education challenges.
Dr. Neal Grandgenett, Haddix Community Chair of STEM Education in the College of Education at UNO, says the goal is to educate Omaha’s youth about STEM careers.
“It really is all about the educational pathways and working together to keep some really bright minds in the city and really keep some people moving along with their educational process.”
Encouraging early results include:
- Increased retention rates in STEM classes on campus
- Expanded teacher training in local P12 schools
- Collaborative after-school programs for schools
- Refereed journal articles (often with participation of community partners)
- More than $8,000,000 in federal and private foundation grants
The partnership has been funded by a detailed university STEM strategic plan and a formal leadership structure that continues to research, pilot, and sustain collaborative models of STEM pathway innovation and “cradle to career” initiatives to improve local outcomes.