Preparing your workforce for the jobs of the future requires early, industry-focused investment to be effective. As research continues to show the academic and social benefits of afterschool and out-of-school time (OST) learning, chambers of commerce are beginning to take notice.
Afterschool and summer STEM programs offer unique opportunities to raise awareness around STEM career paths and enable youth to start developing the technical skills they need to succeed in the workforce. Chambers that partner with key stakeholders in their communities to support afterschool STEM learning opportunities will gain a competitive edge through advancing their communities' talent development needs.
Through partnership with C.S. Mott Foundation and STEM Next, ACCE is developing a portfolio of resources to support chambers as they work to partner, collaborate and lead community workforce development efforts through afterschool STEM.
- The Salina Area Chamber of Commerce (Kan.) partnered with the Kansas Enrichment Network, the state’s afterschool statewide network, to support the creation of EPIC – a digital badging program aimed at addressing the 21st Century skills gap for youth entering the workforce. Through the program, students utilize math and science skills to earn badges in fields like culinary science and digital citizenry.
- Greater Spokane Incorporated (Wash.), who serves as the backbone organization for the regional Spokane STEM Network, also facilitates an aftershool program known as Business AfterSchool. Through the Business Afterschool program, students participate in interactive industry skill workshops hosted by local businesses. These workshops offer students hands-on STEM experiences while introducing them to potential career paths in their community.
- The South Carolina Chamber works in partnership with the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance to close the state's skills gap by promoting quality afterschool programming for students in the state's public school system. The two entities help one another by increasing visibility and credibility among their respective audiences. They have also partnered on key pieces of afterschool-related legislation. Through their partnership, the chamber administers Chamber Homework Centers where students can go after school for personalized academic support.
- The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce (Ark.) operates the Northwest Arkansas Fab Lab, a STEM learning lab, on its ground floor. The space includes a vinyl cutter, CNC router, laser engraver, design software, 3D printers and more. The chamber offers use of the Fab Lab to the public and provides educational programs for community members from elementary school through adulthood. Designed to build a community of innovators and artists, the Fab Lab has elevated the chamber’s reputation in the community while helping spark interest in STEM.
Articles and Online Resources
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| Afterschool_S.T.E.M.Last Updated: 12/14/2017