Providing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math Opportunities

Saturday Academy’s mission is to develop creative, confident, and curious critical thinkers by engaging students in socially conscious and equitable Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) experiences. For over five years, the support of the Olseth Family Foundation has funded two programs: hands-on STEAM classes and apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE). Each of these programs provides career development opportunities for underrepresented students.

STEAM classes take place at neighborhood organizations and groups or schools, and nearly all are free for students to attend. Saturday Academy draws students from Title 1 schools and wide variety of community organizations that focus on serving girls and/or underrepresented minorities in STEAM. Throughout the summer, approximately 2,000 students utilize inquiry and project-based application of academic concepts, while learning about subjects such as animal biology, creative arts, or digital music. The class sizes are small with just 5-15 students, and classes are primarily in-person, with continued on-line options. The instructors are content-area experts who are STEAM professionals. Not only are they passionate about teaching, they are also culturally responsive, and have trauma-informed training. With no tests, homework, or grades, the instructors can use their time to fully support students in developing the skills needed to meet Next Generation Science Standards.

Apprenticeships in Science & Engineering (ASE) are eight-week, full-time summer positions, designed by mentors themselves throughout Oregon. Mentor organizations include universities, hospitals and research institutions and private companies. ASE provides a network of advisers who help students with advice, scholarship applications and recommendations. Each year, 70-100 students are selected from a pool of 400+ applicants, 50% of which are from underrepresented communities. The apprenticeships are competitive and coveted, as they provide paid work experience, career networking, and multiple professional development workshops, which aid students with building professional skills. The workshops provide coaching on resume building, effective interviewing, and writing a cover letter. Saturday Academy aims to recruit at least half of the ASE youth from backgrounds underrepresented in the sciences.

Saturday Academy fosters fairness and equality by opening doors, providing mentors, and encouraging career exploration for highly capable and creative high school students, no matter their cultural or economic background. Saturday Academy’s STEAM and ASE programs connect today’s problem-solvers with the next generation, resulting in a more inclusive, healthier society.