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CUNY Panel on The Importance of Pipeline Programs to Enhance Learning and Shape Interest and Commitment to STEAM Careers

June 1, 2018

On June 1st, Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships, and STEAM Initiatives Lee Llambelis attended the Summit on Latinos in NYC (SOL) at the Hunter College Silberman School of Social work in East Harlem.  Ms. Llambelis was joined by Professor Natalie Gomez Velez who served as both moderator and a presenter, Jane Martinez Dowling the executive director of Expanded ED and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez. The panelists spoke to approximately 50 attendees about the importance of Latino students pursuing careers in the STEAM fields and in participating in pipeline programs that expose young people to STEAM careers starting in middle school. Panelists also emphasized the importance of longitudinal data and opportunities for internships, employment and community engagement as highly effective to help make the case that pipeline programs can serve to put young people on a path to higher education and career success.

Prof. Gomez-Velez, shared information about STEAM pipeline education programs offered by the City Parks Foundation through after school and summer programs for elementary, middle, and high school students, including the Green Girls, Coastal Classroom, and Learning Gardens environmental education programs (which include components of engineering, math, science, art, and architecture).  In addition to substantive education, the programs teach college and career readiness, civic engagement, and parks stewardship. Both Prof. Gomez-Velez and DC Llambelis serve on the City Parks Foundation Education Committee.

Jane Martinez Dowling discussed STEAM initiatives provided by ExpandED, with a focus on resource-rich, experiential learning. Ms. Dowling also discussed the importance of including expert teachers and of professional role models who are experts and leaders in STEAM fields.

Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez discussed the importance of providing much needed resources to support robust STEAM programs. He also noted that such programs should be more than niche programs available to a small number of students.  Rather, they should be available to all public-school students, particularly those students with the fewest options. He also noted his support for the construction of a STEAM-focused school in upper Manhattan.

SOL is an annual research conference organized by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute, and the Hispanic Federation.  The daylong research conference brought together academics, elected officials, government agency officials, members of unions and community-based organizations seeking to identify current adverse conditions affecting Latinos in New York City; identify elements in the urban environment that may be constraining the effective addressing of those adverse conditions; and develop a solid action plan to address those conditions.

“You cannot be what you do not see and as such it is critically important for Latino students to be exposed to the STEAM professions very early on. In particular, careers in Engineering, Architecture, and Construction as these are the careers of the future and there are presently very few Latino children in that pipeline. If our young people are going to compete effectively in a global 21st century economy, they need to be prepared. The SOL research conference is an opportunity to reach key community stakeholders and move the conversation forward,” said DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships & STEAM Initiatives Lee Llambelis.

Deputy Commissioner Lee Llambelis, Jane Martinez Downing, ED of ExpandedED and CUNY Prof. Natalie Gomez Velez.

The invited guests were grouped into ten themed panels, ranging from education to immigration to business development. Using the participation-driven approach of a research conference, panelists were tasked to answer three questions: What do we know about the issue? What can we do? And who is going to do it?

Panelists recommendations included organizing and advocating for the provision of robust public and private resources to support excellent STEAM programs that serve Latino youth. They also discussed the importance of parent and community engagement and teaching parents how to access quality programs and how to build support for robust experiential programming. They also recommended engaging with partners, schools of education, and experts to support excellent teacher preparation programs and develop pipelines for STEAM teachers, including bi-lingual, bi-cultural teachers trained in cultural humility and competency and the importance of incorporating social justice, civic engagement, and personal growth as goals.