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Saturday Science Academy II: Preparing the Next Generation of STEM & Health Care Leaders

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

Non-profit organization

Saturday Science Academy II prepares underrepresented preschool through 12th grade students for careers in Science and health care through an engaging curriculum and hands-on STEM activities.



What does your organization do?

CDU is a private, nonprofit, community-founded university committed to educating and training leaders in health professions dedicated to social justice and health equity for underserved populations.

Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

CDU’s SSA II seeks to expand educational opportunities for underrepresented students enrolled in under-resourced schools in Los Angeles County. The results we expect from this activation are improved student academic outcomes, including interest in STEM and health care professions, high school graduation, college enrollment and graduation, and workforce leadership. SSA II seeks to provide learning experiences which form a foundation for success as scientists and health professionals.

Which of the learn metrics will your activation impact?​

  • College matriculation rates
  • Proficiency in English and Language Arts and Math
  • Students’ immersion in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math content

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the best place to CONNECT

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • Antelope Valley
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?

  • Trainings and/or in-person engagements
  • Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities
  • Create impactful changes in education

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to learn?

Saturday Science Academy II (SSA II) is a Next Generation Science Standards-based program conducted in four programmatic phases throughout the academic school year. These phases are Human Physiology and Anatomy, Physical Science and Engineering, Marine Biology and Plant Life. A 4-week summer mathematics program is offered to students to encourage reinforcement and retention of academic knowledge gained throughout the academic year. Students are provided with two hours of tutoring each Saturday to increase Proficiency in English and Language Arts and Math.

SSA II incorporates Next Generation Science Standards as its base educational framework and is open to students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Similar programs for students typically engage students at the high school level. In preparation for leadership and representation in STEM and health care careers, SSA II enrolls students early in their academic career to encourage early interest and involvement in STEM, increase college matriculation rates, connect youth with volunteer, mentorship, research opportunities, and increase proficiency, at or above grade level, in English and Language Arts, Math, and science.

The program strategy also includes a College Readiness component where high school students are offered SAT preparation, test tasking skills, a critical thinking course, college application completion assistance and monitoring, inclusive of college readiness activities designed to improve students’ academic profile and increase college matriculation rates. The academic agenda evolves from the Charles Drew University Mission Statement, “To conduct education, research, and clinical services in the context of community engagement to train health professionals who promote wellness, provide care with excellence and compassion, and transform the health of underserved communities.” Students are engaged in their school communities through community service collaborative partnerships with local school districts/schools, teachers and parents/caregivers.

SSA II follows best practice program models and incorporates three unique features: Parent Involvement, community engagement, and pre-kindergarten through 12th grade student participation. Research demonstrates parent involvement as a critical component of student academic success. Parents are actively engaged through coordinated program support activities as a way to increase program retention and support of student activities. Teachers for this program are local college students who volunteer their time to give back to the community. Students in the program connect with college students, learn about their experiences, and are motivated as they engage with demographically representative teachers on a weekly basis.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to learn

SSA II serves Los Angeles County preschool through 12th grade students. The student population is 80% African-American, 11% Latino, 61% female, 39% male, 75% Pre K-8 and 25% grades 9-12. “Underrepresented minorities (URM) complete high school at lower rates and score lower on standardized exams than their peers do, often creating barriers into college” (NACME). SSA II focuses its work on closing the academic achievement gap in STEM education and increasing representation of underrepresented groups, including women, in STEM and the health care professions.

The 2015 U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index shows the persistent gap in STEM education and employment between genders, whites and minorities, and reports the gap is widening. According to the National Science Foundation, the globalization of the 21st century and an increasingly knowledge-based economy intensifies the need for STEM education, particularly as STEM skills are critical to training in the health professions. Evidence shows, attracting more URMs in the early stages of their education to meet the needs of a diverse population, is an effective strategy for reducing racial and ethnic disparities in health status.

SSA II exposes Los Angeles youth to science, actively engages the community in volunteer opportunities, increases student performance in English/Language Arts, Math, and Science and prepares students to matriculate through each educational path-continuing to make Los Angeles the best place to learn and connect.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

The success of this project is defined by the following outcomes, which build upon the Consensus Developmental Outcomes and Learning Indicators for STEM in Afterschool programs identified by Afterschool Alliance. The Afterschool Alliance outcomes are congruent with the National Research Council (NRC) report, “Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education,” which identifies program outcomes of effective STEM education programs. The key SSA II program outcomes and corresponding program performance measures are: Outcome I: Students develop interest in STEM health sciences learning activities. Performance Measure: % of students who complete all four program sessions. Outcome II Students develop capacities for productive engagement in STEM learning activities. Performance Measure: % of students who increase their knowledge of STEM as measured by pre/post assessments of STEM principles and increase English Language Arts and Math as identified by their report cards. Outcome III: Students come to value the goals/importance of STEM in everyday life. Performance Measure: % of students who increase student knowledge of STEM and health care careers as measured by pre/post assessments of STEM and health careers. Outcome IV: Students develop interest in college attendance and a major in STEM or health sciences. Performance Measure: % of 12th grade participants who apply to a college or university as measured by College Readiness Checklist.

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

In five years, we hope to make progress in six critical areas below:

Program Sustainability. Achieve program sustainability through securing a broad and diverse funding base inclusive of foundation and corporate grants, individual donors, and revenue-generating programs, goods, and services; and Increase financial and programmatic support from the CDU alumni association.

Student Retention. Retain 60% of the enrolled high school students each program session; Encourage 100% of eligible SSA high school seniors to apply to CDU each year.

Program Expansion. Enroll 150 Pre-K through 8th grade students per year and 100 high school students youth per year; Provide a medical and health-sciences focused technology component; Build the capacity and expertise to update SSA curriculum to align with NGSS and innovations every 3-5 years; Increase staff and program capacity to support the increase in student participation, program expansion, and the additional operational and administrative functions and responsibilities; and Sponsor and host an annual science day or science fair for Pre-Kindergarten - 12th grade community youth.

Outreach, Visibility, and Community Engagement. Sponsor and host a yearly STEM conference for teachers, counselors, STEM program leaders and staff. We also aspire to establish and maintain a pool of program support volunteers, and a volunteer teaching corps of SSA alumni, adult professionals, college students (undergrad, graduate, and post-graduate including the medical and health professions), and exceptional high school students with interest in science and health care careers, with a focus placed on underrepresented groups.

Lastly, we aim to operate and be recognized as the most effective and successful STEM/Health Care career program in the County of Los Angeles.


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