Who We Serve
In This Section
What are we about
Traditionally, youth programs have focused on what’s “wrong.” They’ve been all about identifying what makes students do poorly in school and trying to prevent those factors or “fix” students once their problems start interfering with grades, attendance or other aspects of school performance. We have a better way. Like more and more great youth programs today, IWMF focuses on what’s “next” for young people. We encourage students to think beyond the limitations they may be facing in their lives today by giving them tools and resources to create something better for their future. Through the use of cutting edge technology, IWMF aims to increase our youths’ capacity to navigate the global community with 21st century skills.
To empower youth and community with rigorous science, technology, engineering, Agriculture and math (STEaM) education though culturally-relevant programs that provide access to academic resources, and social capital that eliminate barriers for individual success and fostering their untapped talent for the advancement advancement of our nation.
We accomplish our mission by Focusing on 3 key areas:
(1) Rigorous STEAM Education
Science, Math and other related topics (SMART) serves all students, however we focus on those who live in communities with schools that are underfunded and de-prioritized. This rigorous, world-class program fills a critical gap in the education system and opens doors that typically aren’t accessible or imaginable for many students of minority groups. Our curriculum prepares students for important indicators of college readiness, including college entrance and vocational skill exams, while also fostering talents that can’t be quantified, like curiosity and creativity. We build students’ sense of civic responsibility and global citizenship by teaching through the lens of social justice. All of this manifests in meaningful coursework that illuminates the power of STEaM, like engineering projects centered on community safety and nutritional health.
(2) Access to Social Capital
A robust network is essential when entering the workforce, especially in tech. It’s important that our students meet and present projects to people who not only work in tech, but look like them and are successful in the careers students are seeking. Through speakers’ series, networking nights and professional skills training, students are introduced to STEAM professionals who have walked similar paths – offering students the opportunity to cultivate and leverage their networks for professional development and mentorship. Immersed in this environment, students gain a community of peers, allies and champions who are invested in their future.
(3) Culturally-Responsive Approach
Decades of social science research shows that students – especially underrepresented students of minority groups – retain knowledge better when they can connect to what they learn and apply it to the world around them. “The SMART way” of curriculum and instruction enables students to apply their STEAM knowledge by designing and building tech solutions for the most prevalent problems facing our communities. This approach is student-centered; we identify and nurture students’ unique cultural strengths to promote their achievement and sense of well-being about their cultural place in the world. Bolstered by our emphasis on social justice, the SMART coursework centers on real social issues; for example, biology assignments that target climate change within students’ neighborhoods. When you combine the lived experience of these students with academic rigor and a supportive environment, meaningful innovation happens.