“I am so impressed by Urban Advantage: they have taken scientific discovery into our least affluent communities and engaged our most vulnerable students in love of learning through scientific exploration…Of particular note was the gender and racial diversity of the participants, which directly addresses the prevailing imbalances in STEM education and employment.”
– Gully Stanford, representing the Colorado Department of Higher Education
UA Denver serves 3,400 students and 40 teachers from 24 schools annually. Findings from a comprehensive efficacy study show that the program creates a positive environment in which teachers can engage their students in STEM learning. UA Denver teachers devote 44% of class time to student-directed investigation experiences, compared to 19% for non-UA teachers—an increase of 25%. UA Denver students are significantly more likely than their non-UA peers to report an interest in pursuing science-related activities outside of school, demonstrating the program’s positive impact on student interest, engagement, and persistence in science.
In addition to multifaceted, hands-on educational opportunities for students both in and outside the classroom, UA Denver maximizes its impact by involving teachers and families—students’ support system.
UA Denver comprises multiple integrated experiences throughout the academic year:
Free access to partner institutions (via field trips, bus allowances, admission passes, and online access to scientists) encourages participants to use the institutions as learning resources
Support for UA Denver is welcome at any level. We seek leadership support of $50,000–$100,000 annually, while contributions of $10,000–$15,000 can underwrite program participation for seventh grade students and teachers from one middle school.
In addition, an annual culminating event—the Science Celebration—calls upon local STEM professionals to volunteer as Science Mentors. Science Mentors interact one-on-one with students to learn about the students’ science investigations, share their own journeys into science careers, and encourage the students to continue on their academic and career pathways into STEM fields.Funders and Partners
UA Denver is a partnership among three major science-based cultural institutions—Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo, and Denver Botanic Gardens—and two of Colorado’s largest and most diverse public school districts—Denver Public Schools and Aurora Public Schools. The National Science Foundation has supported this work with a five-year grant awarded in 2010 designed to study the efficacy of an informal-formal education collaboration to enhance teachers’ effectiveness in providing STEM education and assure all students the opportunity to learn STEM content and 21st century skills.
The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against CTEq's Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.
Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.
Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.
Ensure work is sustainable.
Demonstrate replicability and scalability.
Create high impact partnerships
Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.
Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience
Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.
Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.
Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.