Empowering More Students to Be Makers is an Investment in Our Future


Last year, US2020 launched the STEM Coalition Challenge, with support from Schmidt Futures and the Arconic Foundation. The Challenge was a competition for communities across the country to develop cross-sector partnerships to bring quality hands-on maker-centered learning to underrepresented students at scale through STEM mentorship. More than 90 communities participated, signalling a significant need and demand for the tools, resources, programs and support that will help schools, libraries, museums and other youth-serving organizations engage students in maker centered learning with mentors.

Making is important because it empowers students to develop their own agency and enables them to understand how they can have a positive impact on the world around them. Through these experiences, students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, have the opportunity to cultivate their creativity and curiosity and engage in meaningful, hands-on, interdisciplinary learning experiences at the intersection of STEM, arts and design. Research from Harvard Graduate School of Education discovered that through making, students develop a sensitivity to the designed dimensions of objects and systems and an agency and capacity to shape one’s world through building, tinkering and re-design.

Throughout the next year, US2020 will work closely with its City Network of 22 communities across the country to expand and deepen maker centered learning opportunities locally, in places such as Allendale, SC, Socorro, NM and Boise, ID. This will include leveraging the breadth of innovative models and programs that have been developed by leading maker education organizations, such as Maker Ed, Fab Foundation and Digital Promise. We also want to work together with organizations, institutions and industry to develop new initiatives that will help us reach more youth, in a sustainable and long term way. If you are interested in learning more about our work in this space and getting involved, feel free to email me at stephaniesantoso@citizenschools.org.

Stephanie has recently joined US2020 as the Director of Maker Initiatives. From 2014-2016, Stephanie served as the first Senior Advisor for Making at the White House, where she helped develop President Obama’s Nation of Makers initiative, to broaden access to the Maker Movement. She is a Senior Fellow at Infosys Foundation USA and was previously a Science Program Fellow at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation where she worked on the Moore Inventor Fellows program, aimed at supporting early-career innovators with promising inventions in science, environmental conservation and patient care. Steph is in the process of completing her Ph.D. in Information Science at Cornell University. In her spare time she loves traveling, making her own clothes and is training for her first half marathon.