Research shows that students of color aspire to major in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in college at the same rates as their white and Asian American peers. Yet, despite their interest in pursuing STEM careers, students of color remain underrepresented in STEM degree programs.
Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically Black university in New Orleans, is working against that trend. At least 70 percent of Xavier’s 3,000 students are Black, and 65 percent of those students major in science and mathematics. Xavier ranks first nationally in the number of Black students who earn degrees in biological/life sciences.
For more than 20 years, Xavier has offered a series of summer bridge programs to prepare middle and high school students of color to succeed in STEM. Xavier’s nine STEM bridge programs, known as the Summer Science Academy, serve about 600 secondary school students each summer. The programs strengthen students’ knowledge and skills in mathematics, science, and literacy and focuses on students’ social learning as well as their academic knowledge.
This report on Xavier University of Louisiana’s summer bridge program—interspersed with video highlights of the program—provides a lens into the kind of academic and social learning that build students’ competencies in STEM course work. It also offers several recommendations to states and districts for improving the participation of underrepresented student groups in STEM careers.