New STEM program focuses on equity, diversity

Equity Splash is a youth-focused non-profit organization with a charter to help “dismantle and disrupt structural racism in American society through leadership development and advocacy.” The group will launch a new science and cultural youth program, the Zenzele Learning Center on Saturday, July 2 at the Salem Kroc Center.

“Black students in the Salem-Keizer Public Schools are underrepresented in advanced high school science coursework,” said Salem-Keizer School Board member Dr. Satya Chandragiri in a written statement. “This low enrollment in advanced high school classes is not unique to Salem-Keizer, but part of a larger national trend.”

The new learning center is designed to support youth from Black, Biracial, Indigenous and other minority backgrounds. Attendees will be able to meet the program volunteers and learn more about Equity Splash’s work to advance equitable outcomes.

“The program activities are designed for students ranging from grades kindergarten to eight and include four sessions from July through September as part of this initial launch,” said Chandragiri.

Chandragiri said minority Americans are underrepresented in a variety of professional careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related occupations, and that this program will expose children from minority backgrounds to STEM topics through engaging projects outside of the school environment.

“Students will interact with professionals from diverse backgrounds working in these fields and be paired with mentors who check in with students regarding their interests and progress in school,” he said.