In 2008, the ULGC launched the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy, a dynamic, after-school academic enrichment program focused on reducing the achievement gaps in science, math, and reading for minority and low-income students attending five inner-city middle schools in Hamilton County. Our target schools – Dalewood, Orchard Knob, Tyner, Chattanooga School of the Arts and Sciences, and the IVY Academy—serve a high minority population (86% African American and 5% Hispanic) and face severe poverty: 94% of students are low income. Sadly, an African American or low income student in our target schools is over three times more likely to score below proficient in reading and math than a Caucasian peer on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program.The STEM Academy of the ULGC is focused on African Americans and other under-represented minorities because of their under representation in STEM studies and STEM careers.and student engagement. The STEM Academy was established to improve state standardized test (TCAP) scores in math and science and to introduce students to a variety of careers in STEM.
The Urban League STEM Academy provides an additional 12 to 15 hours of hands-on instruction in math and science each week at school sites or other community locations serving our target students (including recreation centers and the Urban League building). The program meets five days a week during the academic year and engages highly-qualified teachers to facilitate interactive, hands-on STEM curricula, including: the Carnegie Mellon VEX Robotics, the Society for Automotive Engineers, A World in Motion, Triumph Learning’s Ladders to Success and LEGOs Robotics. These curricula give students real world experience with math and science and have demonstrated success in introducing students to robotics, engaging students with physical science concepts, and dramatically improving TCAP reading and math scores. We served a total of 200 after school students during the 2015-2016 project year. Eighty-six percent of the students served by the Urban League qualified for free/reduced lunch, 57% were enrolled in and attending a school failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress, and 21% were at risk of failing one or more subjects.