STEM Learning Ecosystems provide the architecture for cross-sector learning, offering all young people access to STEM-rich learning environments so they can develop important skills and engagement in science, technology, engineering and math throughout preK-16. Strong STEM Learning Ecosystems feature dynamic collaborations among schools, out-of-school time programs, STEM expert institutions (such as museums, science centers, institutions of higher education and STEM professional associations), the private sector, community-based organizations, youth and families.

STEM Learning Ecosystems across the US and internationally collaborate within a larger group called the STEM Learning Ecosystem Community of Practice (SLECoP). The mission of the SLECoP continues to be to unite diverse partners to work for shared goals and gains for STEM access and opportunity for all, with an understanding that STEM is a mindset and construct to innovate and to solve society’s biggest challenges. STEM Learning Ecosystems encompasses schools, community settings such as after-school and summer programs, science centers and museums, and informal experiences at home, businesses/industry, higher education including community colleges and in a variety of environments that together constitute a rich array of learning opportunities for young people. A STEM Learning Ecosystem harnesses the unique contributions of all these different settings in symbiosis to deliver STEM learning for all children. Designed pathways enable young people to become engaged, knowledgeable and skilled in the STEM disciplines as they progress through childhood into adolescence and early adulthood. STEM Learning Ecosystems unite all community stakeholders to ensure that all students and people are engaged STEM learners who are competent and college and career ready, that the educational system and its out-of-school time partners are equipped with the resources they need to engage, teach and develop STEM competency, and that communities thrive through a robust and competitive STEM skilled workforce. STEM Learning Ecosystems develop their knowledge, strengthen their persistence and nurture their sense of identity and belonging in STEM disciplines. STEM ecosystems enable young people to connect what they learn in and out of school with real world learning opportunities, leading to STEM literacy, further education and careers.

With over 100 ecosystems in the internationally reaching STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice (SLECoP), each with their own unique structure and focus but all aligned on their mission to improve meaningful STEM opportunities and engagement for all, the STEM Learning Ecosystems’ impact has been growing. TIES, the day-to-day operator of the STEM Learning Ecosystems, has worked to coordinate the operations of the ecosystems, seeking to facilitate effective communications among the ecosystems and external audiences, provide technical assistance to ecosystems, coordinate shared initiatives, lead programming, provide financial support and oversight and generally manage the work.

The SLECoP History - Founded in 2015, the STEM Learning Ecosystem Initiative was designed by TIES in collaboration with the STEM Funders Network, under the leadership of the Samueli Family Foundation and Noyce Foundation (STEM Next) to empower local communities to thrive through collaboration and communication to deliver results for students, educators and business leaders. Numerous other philanthropic and corporate funders have recognized the value of the SLECoP and have offered support and leadership. At the time of the founding of the SLECoP, the plethora of STEM programming was clearly not meeting the needs of the communities and their rising student talent. It was equally clear that design of a strong local infrastructure was needed. 

This initiative believes STEM Learning Ecosystems possess the tools and knowledge to create change through collaboration and cross sector partnership and engagement.