STEM Santa Fe Offering Free Out-Of-School Programs

By LINA GERMANN
STEM Santa Fe

I am often asked why we offer our STEM programs to students for free instead of charging the actual cost with a sliding scale.

I simply do not want parents to hesitate before signing their children up for our out-of-school programs. Children of all economic statuses deserve to be immersed in a STEM experience without a second thought. There is an opportunity gap in addition to the achievement gap and we work hard to make our programs accessible to underserved communities.

During our programs like the summer camps, their confidence, skills, and knowledge were all increasing while they spent the days together learning, eating, and doing additional activities like dying t-shirts. We started noticing something else: friendships were developing.

One of my volunteers pointed it out first: “Look at these girls from all different schools coming together and helping each other with their projects.” This reminded me of my personal experience growing up. My friends were very important to me because I came from a lower middle-class family where my parents didn’t even graduate from middle school. My friends had educated parents who helped us figure out how to apply to college, graduate school and even how to buy a plane ticket to the United States.

Offering our programs free of charge allows our students to build friendships across all economic levels. The recent New York Times articleFriending Bias(August 2022) validated my personal experience and my experience with our STEM Santa Fe programming. Ambition, resiliency and social capital are just as important as a good education for upward mobility.

LOS ALAMOS

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