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Samsung Solve for Tomorrow partner shares how to fix STEM education for Black students and teachers

4/17/2023

Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education holds special relevance for Alix Guerrier, the CEO of DonorsChoose, the nonprofit providing a trusted classroom crowdfunding platform for teachers. His personal experience as a former STEM student and middle and high school STEM teacher animates his concern about the dire shortage of Black STEM educators. A recent Donors Choose survey found that while 15% of public school students are Black males, only 2% of teachers are Black males.

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Alix Guerrier, CEO of DonorsChoose

In an April blog post in STEM SmartBrief, a STEM education media outlet, Guerrier shared his journey from “naïve” STEM student to head of the celebrated nonprofit that is Samsung Solve for Tomorrow‘s partner with a shared mission to ensure that diverse students in communities across the U.S. have the access and tools they need to power their STEM education. Writing about the shortfall in Black STEM educators, he maintains, “This disparity is unacceptable, with real-world consequences. Indeed, research shows that Black students who have at least one Black teacher between third and fifth grade are 33% more likely to graduate.”

Guerrier cautions that wishful thinking about STEM education won’t solve the challenges facing Black students and teachers. He proposes concrete actions to change things for the better – including promoting STEM education in ways relevant and meaningful to student’s lives – like the annual Solve for Tomorrow STEM competition.

Having addressed the final round of the competition last year, Guerrier writes, “I am excited about Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow program… where public school students submit ideas on how STEM can help change their communities. Last year’s National Sustainability Winner, Rhode Island’s Central Falls High School, identified environmental racism as a problem in their city and worked to turn brownfields into green spaces like parks and community gardens. This project not only taught students about STEM, but also about the real-world applications of these subjects and how they can make positive change.”

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Baltimore’s Green Street Academy teacher Harry Preston and students compete in the 2021-22 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition.

Another solution Guerrier sees for increasing Black representation in STEM education is to elevate the Black educator experience and provide more support to Black teachers and their classrooms. This is something DonorsChoose is committed to doing, championing a core principle that all kids can learn and positively impact their communities. Through the DonorsChoose platform, anyone can help classrooms in need, and connect donors and partners with Black teachers and racially and ethnically diverse schools.

Gurerrier concludes, “As a former teacher, I know positive role models have a powerful impact on students. Students who see themselves represented in their teachers feel seen and validated for who they are. This is why we need more Black STEM educators – to not only teach students about STEM subjects but also serve as role models and mentors, helping students believe in themselves and their abilities. By elevating the Black educator experience, promoting STEM education in relevant and meaningful ways, and providing more support to Black teachers and classrooms, we can make progress towards a more equitable future.”

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Read Alix Guerrier’s full STEM SmartBrief article here: https://corp.smartbrief.com/original/2023/04/fixing-stem-education-for-black-students-and-teachers

(NOTE: Samsung Solve for Tomorrow 2022-2023 National Finalists will be announced April 19. Visit Samsung.com/Solve to find out if a public school from your state advances to the final round and the live pitch event judging in May.)

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