Furshpan and Potter Native American High School Summer Program

  • Abstract

    Project Summary Underrepresented minorities (URMs) represent 33% of the US college age population and this will continue to increase (1). In contrast, only 26% of college students are URMs. In the area of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), only 15% of college students completing a STEM major are URMs (2). While there have been gains in the percent of Hispanic and Black/African Americans pursuing college degrees, the number of Native American college students remains alarmingly low. In 2013, Native Americans represented only 1% of entering college students and less than 50% finished their degree. Moreover, 1% of students pursuing advanced degrees in STEM-related fields are Native American/Alaska Native. With regards to high school graduation rates, the percent of Native American/Alaska Native students completing high school has decreased with only 51% of students completing high school in 2010 compared to 62 % and 68% for Black and Latino students respectively. While identifying ways to retain students from all underrepresented groups is important, developing programs targeting Native American students is crucial. In collaboration with the Hopi community, a three-week summer course for Native American high school students at Harvard was initiated in 2001. Within three years, the program expanded to include three additional Native American communities. 225 students participated in the program over a 10-year period; and 98% of those responding to the evaluation completed high school or obtained a GED and 98% entered two or four year colleges including 6 students who entered Harvard. This program was reinitiated in 2015 and we plan to build on the existing structure and content of this successful program. Specifically, in collaboration with two Native American communities, the goal of the program is 1) to increase participants’ knowledge of STEM disciplines and their relevance to issues in participants’ communities via a three week case-based summer course for Native American high school students; 2) to help enhance secondary school STEM education in Native American communities by providing opportunities for curriculum development and classroom enhancement for secondary school teachers in the participating Native American communities; and 3) to familiarize students with the college experience and application process and enhance their readiness for college through workshops, college courses and internships. Through these activities we hope to 1) increase the number of Native American students completing high school; 2) increase the number of Native American students applying and being accepted to college; 3) increase the number of Native American students pursuing STEM degrees and careers; 4) increase the perception among Native American students that attending and Ivy plus institution is attainable; 5) increase the feeling of empowerment that they can help their community by pursuing advanced degrees in STEM.

    This proposal supports a summer program for high school students and teachers from Native American communities. The program goals are to encourage students to complete high school and prepare them for college and to also consider degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math.