STEM Hubs are regionally-focused, multi-sector partnerships that unite schools,
universities, non-profits, businesses, civic leaders and other members of communities in
so-called local STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning
ecosystems. STEM Hubs as organized local learning ecosystems have their origin in recent
research on effective STEM programming which strongly recommends integrated
approaches to teaching and learning that include not only all students, but also all assets
for learning, and that build on the simple truth that learning does not only occur within
classrooms. The purpose of creating these organized local STEM learning ecosystems
called STEM Hubs, therefore, is to drive STEM innovation and evidence-based practices in
teaching and learning at the systems level. Designing and curating connected learning
across time and space by making use of local STEM assets, involvement of all community
partners in a local learning ecosystem, a focus on quality of life and economic opportunity
and the development of social (science) capital are underlying mechanisms that allow
STEM Hubs to create short- and long-term impacts. STEM Hubs are implementing
strategies that include (amongst others) educator professional development on best
practices in STEM instruction; in- and out-of-school, hands-on STEM learning experiences
for students; and connections to fast-growing STEM employment opportunities in Oregon.
But most importantly, STEM Hubs are creating connections between programs, thereby
ensuring that they develop their full effectiveness. The state of Oregon is supporting STEM
Hubs by funding a backbone infrastructure as an essential component of a collective
impact organization.

The main research goal for this study is to describe how investment into the Hubs has
influenced local STEM communities; that is, how STEM Hubs have begun to create
opportunities for partnerships, collaboration, connected programming, improved program
development or delivery, or improved communication within and outside the STEM
teaching and learning community. This study also has a goal to build capacity to improve
STEM Hub effectiveness by supporting Hubs in data-driven decision-making and
continuous improvement. The proposed study will build on the STEM Hub evaluation
conducted in 2017 which revealed important insights into the degree to which the then 11
funded STEM Hubs were creating purposeful communities towards addressing locally
recognized systemic challenges in STEM/CTE education. Based on previous and new
findings, the proposed study will provide recommendations for improvements and future
investments, as well as provide important insights into how the collective impact
communities are developing. Ultimately, the study is aiming at establishing whether and to
what degree STEM Hubs are helping to improve opportunities for effective teaching and
learning for all Oregon children. Results from the study will also provide evidence of impact
that may entice further community support, an essential aspect of sustaining and growing
STEM Hubs in the future.