The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has a long history of providing STEM learning opportunities for the community. This includes hosting regional Science Olympiad competitions, providing professional development workshops for in-service teachers, loaning STEM equipment to caregivers for the special education community, and securing grant funding to bring programs like MarineQuest to rural, underserved schools. In order to be more efficient, intentional, and collegial in our efforts to support STEM, the Center for Education in STEM (CESTEM), Youth Programs, and the Center for Assistive Technology formed the STEM Learning Cooperative (STEM LC) that capitalizes on campus and community partnerships to develop and deliver aspirational STEM learning opportunities for students, families, and educators. You can learn more about the STEM LC here.

Members of the STEM LC had been watching the work of STEM EAST and STEM WEST in North Carolina as well as other ecosystems across the country and were interested in creating a similar type of partnership in southeastern North Carolina. When the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice Initiative opened the application process for a new cohort of communities in 2018, the STEM LC reached out to current and former partners to formalize our ecosystem and create STEM SENC. The STEM LC was joined by 26 partners representing schools, out-of-school learning, STEM-expert and supporting organizations, business and industry, higher education, state government, and parent and family serving organizations. Together they planned to focus on three key priorities:

  • Create a shared identity for the region anchored in STEM;
  • Cultivate a vision of STEM as a regional solution to the lack of education and career aspirations; and
  • Promote STEM as a pathway to healthy living and a promising future.

 Ecosystem Stakeholders