STEM-tastic Results in our Oakland Education Initiative

Posted for Barbara Whye, the Executive Director of Strategy and External Alliances in Intel’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Office – you can follow her on Twitter @steministbarb.

The Intel-Oakland Unified School District initiative has produced fantastic results in year one of our partnership. Committed Intel employees, OUSD and school staff and students in the district have propelled the project forward in a significant way. The goal of this project is to draw students into computer science and engineering programs by deepening their interests and excitement. From the start, our approach has been to focus on students, teachers, parents, and community. This comprehensive approach is designed to see students from OUSD high schools through college to jobs in the tech sector and at Intel.

Intel-Oakland Unified School District Initiative

Reflecting on our partnership goals and year one results, as a committed advocate of STEM, the first word that came into my head after seeing the progress was “STEM-tastic!!”  We delivered meaningful results for students with a sense of urgency and purpose.  This work matters greatly to me; I believe in it because of the power of engineering in my own life.  It is also frankly prioritized as a part of our performance results.  A student captured the heart of what we are trying to accomplish in a recent focus group. The student shared, “Before this program, I was saying that I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grow up and I wanted to have a better understanding of that by the end of the program… And now I do.”

Here are my top 3 results and learnings so far:

  1. Result:  400% Increase in Student Enrollment in Computer Science in one year!   OUSD had ~700 students across the district enrolled in CS.  This school year kicked off with 2800 students!!  Reflection:  An educational choice is an identity choice.  When students see role models that they can personally connect with, they are more likely to follow in their role model’s footstep.
  2. Result:  From 14% to now 100% of teachers in two sponsored Oakland schools believe their students have a future at Intel and the tech industry Reflection:  Mindsets matter. It’s not enough for teachers to teach scientists; they must meet scientists and incorporate reality into their daily curriculum.
  3. Result: Students are taking actions.  Prior to Intel investment, only 33 OUSD students took an AP computer science course. This year, that number is 361, an 11x increase. Reflection: There is a narrative about young people not having interest in STEM.  The narrative should be changed to adults have done a terrible job of helping students understand “why” they should care about computer science and engineering.   When students get the why, they are ready to take action.  One OUSD High School Senior shared, “Working with my Intel mentor, I have learned that there are many opportunities just waiting for me in the world. I just need to take initiative and act upon them!.”

Prior to entering into this project, there were a lot of risks and many barriers to breakthrough.  Yet seeing the tangible impact of what we are achieving together validates our investment –money, time, expertise – in our future workforce. We are giving access and opportunity and that closes gaps well beyond any educational excellence measure.   I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And like one of our mentees stated, “Now I do!!

Watch High School students share their experiences as Intel High Tech Pathway Interns >

OUSD Intel Internship Experience

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