Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Grant Expands Access to STEM Courses for Minority Students

A $5 million grant from Google aims to increase the number of minority and female students enrolling in Advanced Placement courses in the areas of STEM–science, technology, engineering and math.

The AP STEM Access Program seeks to launch courses in about  800 high schools. Participating schools will begin offering the courses in fall 2013 and must commit to offering them for at least three years. The College Board, which administers the AP exam, will offer the program with the nonprofit group DonorsChoose.org.

Each school will receive about $1,200 to $9,000 for each AP course added, varying depending on the subject and equipment required to teach the class.

One of the requirements to be eligible for the funding will be having 10 or more Latino, black or Native American students and 25 or more female students who have high potential to successfully take a STEM course not already offered at their school. PSAT scores will be used  to determine this.

Teachers who increase classroom diversity will receive a $100 DonorsChoose gift card for every student earning a three or higher on the AP exam.

The grant is part of Google’s Global Impact Awards and goes to DonorsChoose.org.

STEM AP courses include biology, Calculus, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, physics and statistics courses.

“There are hundreds of thousands of talented students in this country who are being left out of the STEM equation — they’re not being given the opportunity to find their passion or pursue today’s most promising careers,” said Jacquelline Fuller, director of giving at Google said in a press release. “We’re focused on creating equal access to advanced math and science courses, and ensuring that advanced classrooms become as diverse as the schools themselves.”

The board also developed a list of schools eligible for the program, listed here.  It should be interesting to see how many schools follow through with participating. In your school districts, have you ever checked how which AP courses that are offered vary by high school? This can often reveal inequalities within a district, as well as between districts. Even if your community is not on this list, it would be interesting to see whether students are getting access to STEM courses.