Using Collaboration to Provide High-Quality STEM Opportunities

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Brenda Britsch, National Girls Collaborative Project, Lynnwood, WA
Background. This poster illustrates the use and effectiveness of the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) collaboration model as an innovative strategy to improve the quality of K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. Collaboration is an interactive process intended to enable professionals across projects and communities that share goals to generate and carry out creative solutions and strategies that maximize benefit beyond that which one project or community could accomplish. It is critical to leverage key resources, such as STEM expertise and experience working with youth, to provide high-quality STEM opportunities and to avoid reinventing the wheel or expending unnecessary (and often unavailable) funds. Method. The National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP): brings together professionals committed to informing and encouraging girls in STEM at in-person events to facilitate collaboration, share resources, and provide professional development in STEM areas; provides mini-grant funding as an incentive for two or more organizations to collaborate on a STEM project for youth; and facilitates collaboration through the NGCP Program Directory, which allows programs and organizations to enter basic program information as well as “resources needed” and “resources available” as catalysts for collaboration. The data presented here are based on NGCP evaluation findings from the Annual Survey reaching NGCP participants from the Program Directory, events, and webinars, and the NGCP mini-grant report. Results. Forty states and more than 18,000 organizations serving more than 8.5 million girls and 4.9 million boys participate the NGCP network. NGCP increases participating programs’ levels of collaboration and increased collaboration improves programs’ access to resources and capacity to do their work. Those who attended an NGCP event or received a mini-grant had a significantly higher mean level of collaboration compared with other respondents.78% of event attendees and mini-grant recipients indicated that NGCP increased their levels of collaboration with other programs. Annual Survey respondents indicated that collaboration has helped their program be more effective (91%), reduced their feelings of organizational isolation (88%), helped their programs be more efficient (85%), and improved their programs’ sustainability (82%).Conclusion. These results indicate the NGCP collaboration model has been successful at helping organizations and programs leverage collaboration to improve their capacity to provide high-quality STEM opportunities.