#STEMSpotlight: Oregon MESA

#STEMSpotlight: Oregon MESA

What’s the name of your organization? Oregon MESA

What’s your name and title? Tong Zhang, Executive Director

In which city (or cities) is your organization located? Entire Portland Metro Area (from Forest Grove to Troutdale to Oregon City), Salem, Eugene, Albany, Klamath Falls

What are the ages and demographics of youth you work with? Students in grades 5-12 who are underrepresented in STEM including students of color, girls and non-binary students, and low-income students.

Describe your organization and its mission. We are an organization that actively works to disrupt inequity. MESA works to remove barriers, deconstruct systems of oppression, and rebuild in ways that assure students who have been historically underrepresented in STEM have access to high quality learning and achieve at their highest potential. Oregon MESA equips teachers to help underserved middle and high school students excel in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) through hands-on invention education. With our programs, more students from marginalized and low-income backgrounds not only graduate from high school, but also enroll in post-secondary studies and enter the workforce with STEM, 21st century and invention skills — fueling the innovation economy with diverse, talented leaders.

What are the short and long-term goals for your organization? Oregon MESA's goals are to expand equitable STEM education to students statewide. This means a focus on bringing engaging invention education and a supportive STEM ecosystem to students in underserved schools and communities in urban, suburban, and rural areas throughout the state. We've been serving schools in the Portland Metropolitan Area for over 35 years and now serve schools in Salem, Eugene, Albany, and Klamath Falls for a total of over 40 chapters statewide.

How can TAO and community members support your work? TAO and community members can support our work through sponsoring our signature competition events and volunteering. Industry members are a core part of our ecosystem and do everything from assisting Teachers in the classroom as mentors, to hosting career visits, to serving on our regional equity committees, to sponsoring our competition events and much much more. With everything that MESA does, equity comes first so we are excited to partner with community members who want to work towards that goal.

This blog post is part of an awareness campaign about organizations working to advance STEM education opportunities for Oregon youth. A big thank you to Oregon Community Foundation for supporting STEM education!

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