American Honda Foundation Collaborative is Boosting STEAM Interest and Learning Among Young Black and Latino Men
The American Honda Foundation committed $2.5 million over a five-year period when it established the Honda STEAM Collaborative, a cradle-to-college and career pipeline for young Black and Latino men in the Greater Los Angeles area. The funding provided resources and support to eight nonprofit educational organizations in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). Approaching its fifth year of funding, this unique program has yielded improved school attendance and grades, and 40 percent gains in STEAM learning as measured by program tests. Beyond creating greater interest in STEAM subjects for involved students, teachers report that the Honda STEAM Collaborative also is improving student behavior and self-esteem.
Based on the understanding that the needs of young men of color are so complex that no one organization can possibly address them all, the American Honda Foundation conceived of and created the Collaborative in 2017 in partnership with past foundation grantees that demonstrated longstanding involvement and success with STEAM programs for Black and Latino youth. These eight Southern California organizations are Bridge Builders Foundation, Brotherhood Crusade, California Academy for Science and Mathematics (CAMS), Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Children Youth and Family Collaborative (CYFC), Long Beach Math Collaborative, Posse Foundation, and UNCF.
The Collaborative then partnered with the Lynwood Unified School District in a pilot project to bring the partnering organizations’ programs to the students. In the Lynwood Unified School District pilot program, students received over 200 hours of afterschool and Saturday STEAM instruction and engagement each year, providing opportunities and support not readily accessible in their schools or communities, including hands-on STEAM activities, academic tutoring, mentoring and leadership development. The partnering organizations collectively reach elementary through high school students in underserved communities across Southern California.
Increasing Educational, Economic, and Leadership Opportunities
Fully funded by the American Honda Foundation, the Honda STEAM Collaborative was formed to address the reality that young men of color are academically under-performing in school, over-represented in the correctional justice system and critically under-represented in higher education, 21st century careers, and leadership positions of all kinds.
- Black and Latino males have the lowest graduation rates of any other sub-group in Los Angeles County.1
- One of three African-American boys and one in six Latino boys will be incarcerated.2
- African-American men compose only 7.7 percent, and Latino men compose only 8.6 percent, of America’s scientists and engineers3
“We believe young men of color deserve better outcomes and the American Honda Foundation is determined to increase their representation in STEAM professions while building a community of role models to inspire the next generation,” said Rich Richardson, president of the American Honda Foundation Board of Trustees. “Every young person deserves an equal opportunity to reach their potential and achieve their dreams.”
Supporting Students’ Well-Being and Development During the Pandemic
Following school closures in 2020, program services were moved to a virtual/distance learning platform. The partner organizations came together to ensure a continuation of services for students, including:
- Tablets and hotspots/Wi-Fi in the homes of families without internet access
- STEM kits that contained materials for students to carry out hands-on activities at home
- Virtual mentoring by professional men, some of whom have STEAM careers, to inspire, motivate and provide guidance
- Virtual physical fitness sessions – held on Saturdays with certified instructors – encouraged students to get moving, helped relieve stress, and promoted the importance of overall health. The young men received exercise kits with an exercise ball, jump rope and resistance bands.
- Additional resources and support to the young men and their families, which included school supplies, clothing, and food
Honda STEAM Collaborative Programs
The Honda STEAM Collaborative was established with eight partnering organizations that provide free services and support through afterschool and Saturday programs:
- Bridge Builders Foundation – The Foundation’s mission is to remove the barriers of race, poverty, ignorance, and despair through mentoring, educational support, health care awareness, and community uplift.
- Brotherhood Crusade – The non-profit organization addresses the needs of South Los Angeles’ underserved population by building alliances with other organizations and foundations of goodwill that are committed to and understand the need for helping people prosper.
- California Academy for Science and Mathematics (CAMS) – Located on the campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills, CAMS is a public magnet high school focusing on science and mathematics.
- Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science – The private nonprofit student-centered University is committed to cultivating diverse health professional leaders who are dedicated to social justice and health equity for underserved populations. Its Pipeline Programs provide STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) education to students and families across Los Angeles County.
- Children Youth and Family Collaborative (CYFC) – CYFC establishes partnerships with youth-centered organizations in an innovative collaboration designed to link volunteers from the community with youth who are at-risk or in foster care.
- Long Beach Math Collaborative – The mission of the CSULB-LBUSD Math Collaborative is to increase the mathematics achievement and college-going rates of African-American males in north Long Beach, Calif.
- Posse Foundation – A college access and youth leadership development program, Posse identifies, recruits and selects student leaders from public high schools and sends them in groups to attend some of the top colleges and universities in the country.
- UNCF – Founded in 1944, UNCF’s mission is to build a robust and nationally-recognized pipeline of under-represented students, who because of UNCF support, become highly-qualified college graduates.
Together, these organizations create a holistic network of support that is unique in providing not only academic assistance, but also job training, mentorship, and leadership development, to build life skills. While most efforts to address opportunity gaps faced by young men of color exclusively target middle and high school, the Honda STEAM Collaborative has developed a pipeline of support that starts at the elementary school level and continues through college admission.
Comments from Program Partners and Schools
- James Breedlove, President, Bridge Builders Foundation: “Young men of color face daunting challenges; many must persist in environments that view them with apprehension and are deplete of positive same gender, same race, role models. Exposure to professional men, who look like them, and have shared experiences is empowering for young boys of color; it dispels myths, reduces stigma, and raises life trajectories.”
- Dawn Green, Principal, Rosa Parks Elementary: “By having STEM and the wonderful resources this Collaborative is providing our school and students, we are producing students who are able to think critically, to problem solve, think analytically – skills they will need for their future and beyond.”