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Youth Development and Science Mentoring Initiatives

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. See the organization’s website for its latest information.

Project Exploration has created a model for community based organizations to follow in regards to mentoring middle and high school students in science. A Chicago based nonprofit science education organization, Project Exploration’s mission is to make science accessible to the public—especially minority youth and girls—through personalized experiences with science and scientists. Project Exploration targets students who may not already be academically successful, but are curious, open indeed, and passionate. The science programs offered by Project Exploration are starting points for long-term programming. After getting students interested in science, Project Exploration focuses on keeping them interested and building their capacity to continue that interest. The organization has had a significant impact on supporting students through high school and towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers: 96 percent of Project Exploration students have graduated high school; 61 percent have gone on to a four-year college, and 34 percent of all students and 43 percent of all women are majoring in science. Project Exploration specifically recruits students who are historically underrepresented in science professions—women and minority groups, in particular, those from low-income backgrounds; 81 percent of program participants are female, and 19 percent are male; 73 percent are African American, 25 percent Latino, 1 percent Caucasian, and 1 percent Other. By focusing on, and showing success with, these populations Project Exploration is addressing critical issues facing STEM education today: inequality of opportunity, lack of diversity, and workforce development.