STEM Starter Academies

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

STEM Starter Academies, administered by the Department of Higher Education and run by community colleges across the state, focus on supporting students in pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors and careers. The academies have a particular focus on encouraging students who require additional academic support to select STEM as their field of study.

STEM Starter Academies recruit students to STEM majors, provide orientation activities, offer introductory courses, and facilitate mentorship and support services to promote persistence and attainment of degrees and credentials. Overall, 6,600 community college students participated in these activities in 2014 and 2015. Because they are based at each community college campus, programs vary in their approach to the common goal of increasing STEM majors and careers.

STEM Starter Academies are part of the Commonwealth's overall STEM plan. This plan supports existing efforts by workforce and industry groups, K-12 schools, community colleges, and state universities to build a pipeline for STEM coursework and career activities. Their overall aim is to guide students to future employment in high-growth STEM fields.

Several programs are funded through the state budget to implement the state’s STEM plan. Some like the Starter Academies specifically address a particular population or point in the STEM education trajectory. However, some line-items such as the STEM Pipeline fund are available to support diverse programs at several points in the STEM pipeline including K-12 education, teacher professional development, and career readiness activities.

The Department of Higher Education partnered with the UMass Donahue Institute in 2014 to provide technical assistance to the STEM Starter Academies, collect feedback from participants, promote the adaptation of best practices, and evaluate the impact of the grants.

Updated January 2017