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5 ways investing in STEM programs could benefit city education

Apple, Intel and Google are the tech giants slowly reshaping the education system through STEM programs which aim to address student dropout.

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Apple. Intel. Google. All are tech giants taking an interest in bringing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs into educational institutions. These initiatives provide substantial benefits to students through opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable.

Furthermore, they provide direct incentives for investors to devote funds to STEM programs. By doing so, they not only enrich their communities but also play a crucial role in maintaining future competitiveness in the international landscape.

Build problem-solving skills

Companies like Apple and Google focus on introducing coding to schools and colleges. One of the most valuable skills in that activity is problem-solving, as it asks students to break problems down into bite-sized pieces to discover the “bad” code.

By introducing STEM programs to city education, there is potential for a significant impact — even if students decide not to pursue a STEM career. In a 2017 study, researchers discovered problem-solving skills among students with lower- and higher-income backgrounds differed by 74 points. That translates to a more than two-year difference in education levels.

With STEM programs, every student would have the opportunity to build their problem-solving skills, and getting the chance to do so could improve their chances to excel in the future. Case in point? A global study that compared the performance of students from various countries found U.S. millennials tied for the last place along with people from Poland, Ireland and the Slovak Republic in assessments that involve using technology to solve problems.

Most investors know that when well-known companies can’t find the necessary talent in a home country, they recruit jobseekers that live abroad. By choosing to invest in nearby STEM education programs now, investors could facilitate a future trend of less international recruitment, which may stimulate the national economy.

Encourage college attendance and attract students from other areas

In inner city areas, opportunities for attending — and affording — college are sparse. That leaves many students with only a high school education, which limits their earning potential and career opportunities. With the earnings gap between college and high school graduates at its widest, it’s a challenge to make a living without a degree.

Integrating STEM programs into education curriculums gives people another reason to attend college. That’s especially true due to the growing number of scholarships that exist for people interested in STEM careers. For many students, however, STEM education opportunities are limited to private schools and expensive workshops.

If investors agree to participate in methods that subsidize the costs for people who otherwise cannot afford this kind of education, they could make their cities more prominent places where interested individuals go to grow their knowledge.

As a result, there could be an increase in the number of people who temporarily come to the city from other areas to learn — or even move there, which bolsters the local economy.

53 percent of Americans say they wish they’d found a teacher or mentor during their high school years “who believed in me and inspired me.”

53 percent of Americans say they wish they’d found a teacher or mentor during their high school years “who believed in me and inspired me.” (Source)

Provide more motivation for career opportunities

Demand for STEM candidates is high. By 2022, it is predicted that one million more STEM careers will be available— the catch, however, is that the U.S. isn’t on track to produce that many qualified candidates, as less than 40 percent of students enter college with intentions to study STEM.

Many factors shape a person’s educational path. For example, 53 percent of Americans say they wish they’d found a teacher or mentor during their high school years “who believed in me and inspired me.”

As a committed investor ready to invest in STEM programs for your city, you would be partially responsible for helping students get excited about careers and become more aware of the variety of job possibilities available. Then, the percentage of people who go to college and want to participate in STEM programs should rise.

However, enrollment is not the only issue at stake. Statistics that tracked the number of students who enrolled in college-level STEM programs from 2003 to 2009 found 48 percent dropped out before earning degrees. Even if you do not personally mentor a student, the funds you provide through investment could give learners hope for the future and equip them to excel throughout college.

Restore local communities and the businesses within them

For many inner-city schools, it’s challenging to provide STEM programs due to strained budgets and staffing constraints. That’s why many organizations are stepping in to give the schools the resources educators need to offer STEM courses.

In Maryland, a $7.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation is giving K-12 schools and John Hopkins University the opportunity to revitalize their curriculums and attract a higher caliber of STEM teachers.

With the benefits STEM programs offer, Maryland could begin easing its fragmented community. In the city of Baltimore, for example, more than 10 percent of students drop out. Through a comprehensive curriculum and knowledgeable teachers, that could change.

At the other end of the country, a Utah organization called the STEM Action Center emphasizes collaboration between educators and members of the tech industry to determine what’s needed to help local businesses populate their labor forces.  

This long-term effort is a visible economy booster that provides continued gains for the companies that establish ties to a community. By investing in a program like this one, you could ensure your city starts making notable improvements in education and sustains the momentum, which simultaneously benefits the community’s students, educators, and businesses.

Help emphasize national technology education

Aside from the localized efforts mentioned above, legislation at the national level in the United States will reportedly prioritize STEM education and put $200 million toward promoting it. Choosing to invest your resources into STEM programs lets you demonstrate attentiveness to current events and show a desire to maximize the effectiveness of nationwide efforts.

It’s too early to gauge the overall impact of programs like those above, but the future of technology education will change if the programs are successful. By proving you’re an investor who recognizes the worth of STEM education, you could contribute to lifelong enhancements for your community and all who live and work in it.

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DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Kayla Matthews is a technology blogger who regularly contributes to Inc.com, MakeUseOf and The Gadget Flow. Follow Kayla on Twitter or check out her technology blog, Productivity Bytes.

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