Launched in 2013 as a three-year initiative, the AP STEM Access program increased the number of traditionally underrepresented minority and female high school students who participated in Advanced Placement® (AP) courses in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines. A $5 million grant from Google as part of their Global Impact Awards to DonorsChoose.org enabled 320 public high schools across the country to start more than 500 new AP math, science, and computer science courses and to encourage traditionally underrepresented minority (black/African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic/Latino) and female students with strong academic potential to enroll in and explore STEM courses and related careers.
The grant provided “start-up” funding for each new course, covering classroom resources, educational resources, and teacher professional development. Schools committed to maintaining the new courses for a minimum of three years. By the end of the third year of the program, 651 new AP courses were available in the participating schools.
Criteria for Participation
To achieve the shared goal of increasing student participation in rigorous AP STEM course work and to focus the funding on schools with the most unmet student potential and need, Google and DonorsChoose.org worked with the College Board to develop the following data-driven criteria for participating schools.
Public high schools in the United States
High population of underrepresented students academically prepared for rigorous course work in AP STEM as indicated by their scores on the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). Specifically, in the 2010-11 academic year, they had 10 or more black/African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino students — and/or 25 or more female students — with high potential to be successful in one or more AP college-level STEM courses that were not offered at the high school. For this criterion, high AP potential was defined as 70 percent or higher likelihood of scoring a 3, 4 or 5 on the AP Exam.
Within communities with a median household income of $100,000 or less and/or 40 percent or more students qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals.
“DonorsChoose.org is honored to be recognized by this groundbreaking award program that supports innovative organizations that are making a real difference. The funds will open the door for bright, eager students and teachers who would otherwise be shut out of advanced learning and a promising career path.”
—Charles Best, Founder and CEO, DonorsChoose.org
“There are hundreds of thousands of talented students in this country who are being left out of the STEM equation — they're not being given the opportunity to find their passion or pursue today's most promising careers. We're focused on creating equal access to advanced math and science courses, and ensuring that advanced classrooms become as diverse as the schools themselves.”
—Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Giving, Google