It’s no secret that students who are underserved encounter more barriers to educational success than other students. An Oregon nonprofit, In4All, is laser-focused on this issue — and they’re mobilizing the business community to partner in changing students’ trajectory.
In4All brings together local businesses and schools to provide real world, hands-on learning experiences for students who are historically underserved. The nonprofit is working to help students engage in their education, and introduce them to careers that they may not have thought possible.
“We envision an Oregon where industry and education share the responsibility of engaging students who experience structural barriers rooted in issues of race, class, gender, and other historically marginalizing factors,” said Elaine Philippi, executive director of In4All. “By working together with the business community, we are not only supporting students who have been underserved, but also empowering and preparing a new generation of workers in Oregon and beyond.”
The program, supported and staffed by corporate sponsorship, places volunteers in partner elementary, middle and high schools. Volunteers spend a week or more teaching students about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers.
“We often hear from our educators that students who aren’t typically engaged, excel when the volunteers enter their classrooms,” said Philippi. “The students are engaged, and even help to lead and mentor other students. Teachers have also noticed an increase in attendance during the STEM design thinking programs.”
Not only is the program increasing engagement and attendance, but it’s also shifting the perception that careers in math and science are unattainable.
To measure the success of their elementary program, In4All hired a third-party evaluator to track student data and measure student attitudes toward math and science. Students who were neutral or negative in the pre-test had a significant shift in the post-test. In the aggregate, all students would report that they felt more positive about a career in STEM.
The program is supported by notable Oregon businesses like Tektronix, Autodesk, OnPoint Community Credit Union, New Relic, and many more.
“In4All is addressing a critical need by supporting and empowering students from underrepresented backgrounds at the community level, and connecting them with rewarding careers in STEM,” said New Relic’s Senior Director of Social Impact, Erin Dieterich. “We are proud to do our part to strengthen our local Oregon community and to work with an organization whose work complements our mission to equitably broaden access to technology careers.”
In4All currently serves schools in Multnomah, Washington, Salem-Keizer, and Deschutes counties with plans to expand into Clackamas and beyond.
“I have a lot of hope for the future of our students,” said Philippi. “They are the key to an equitable, thriving Oregon.”
This is part of a regular guest column written by the Technology Association of Oregon in the Portland Business Journal.