Maximizing Accessibility: Providing Summer Engineering Experiences for Racially, Ethnically, and Economically Underrepresented Youth
The drive for broader participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has resulted in a growing interest in out-of-school programs that bring enriching educational experiences to children from ethnic and racial groups that are traditionally underrepresented, particularly children from low-income households. Ideally, such programs would have clear strategies for recruiting students from low-income communities, thereby minimizing barriers to participation, such as transportation and cost. Although many local organizations are clear in their purpose, strategies that maximize access have not been widely tested, and effective practices are
not always evident. Notably, there are few national-scale outreach programs designed to provide out-of-school engineering experiences for children in low-income communities. In an effort to diverge from this trend, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has provided engineering experiences to over 20,000 children since 2007 through the Summer Engineering Experience for
Kids (SEEK) program, which is hosted in cities across the nation. In providing this magnitude of outreach, SEEK has developed a model for effectively increasing access to high-quality out-ofschool engineering learning opportunities for youth in low-income communities. The aim of this paper is to 1) provide a detailed overview of the strategies used by NSBE that increase the likelihood of reaching students from low-income households via SEEK, and 2) the challenges in leading large-scale outreach efforts and lessons learned over time.