As we headed into 2018, we were eager and excited to finalize our camp plans for this Summer. But this meant that we were also faced with the hardest part of running a nonprofit: FUNDRAISING.
In theory it shouldn’t be so hard, right? Everyone understands the importance of education, and we all know that with the increase in technology worldwide, a background in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics(STEM) is increasingly more sought after by employers. This seems like the optimal time to be developing a program that educates students in STEM, as well as prepares them for the workforce and building up their local communities. In fact Mckinsey released that, “The United States alone faces a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts to analyze big data and make decisions based on their findings.” Mckinsey states that this skills gap "represents a massive pool of untapped talent, and it has dire consequences, including economic underperformance, social unrest, and individual despair."
As a data scientist, I look at the statistics (or lack thereof) on American Indian/Alaska Native students and am at a loss. As a minority (Hispanic & a female) in STEM, I know how hard and isolating breaking into a STEM field can be. As a social entrepreneur, I refuse to let this cycle continue--we have to change the stats.
Percentage Represented in STEM
(normalized by percentage of U.S. population)
less than 1% = underrepresented
No student should face the obstacles that so many American Indian/Alaska Native students face, which are in direct connection with the education system facilitated by the government. And before I sound like a cynic and anti-government, I invite you, the reader, to take a look at the statisticswith me. Keep in mind that it is approximated that 700,000 AI/AN students are in the K-12 system, with 48,000 of them attending Bureau of Indian Education supported schools. That means that about 93% of all AI/AN students attend government-run public schools.
While there are deep-rooted issues that have yet to be overcome in regards to U.S. policy and the treatment of the tribes that are native to America(of which only 562 are federally recognized), the present challenges can be addressed and progress made if we all joined together and fought for justice. This article written by Susan Brenna gives an excellent synopsis of the educational disparity I am referring to. Titled, Why are Native Students Being Left Behind?, Brenna address difficult topics and provides the reader with the information necessary to fully understand why focusing on education in indigenous communities is relevant and important. Please check it out!
The more outreach that we conduct, the more it becomes glaringly obvious: most people are unaware of this issue. We are working to advocate for equity in education and share more about why reaching indigenous communities and working alongside them to create beneficial educational programs for their students is worth so much.