Ensuring the Next Generation of STEM Talent through K–12 Research Programming

Authors: Maya Ajmera and Rachel Goldman Alper


Labor shortages persist in the United States in a variety of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. To address these shortages, the next administration should establish a national, federally funded initiative involving the public and private sectors to develop a more robust and diverse pipeline of STEM talent. The Next Generation of STEM Talent Through K–12 Research Programming Initiative will remove significant barriers to participation in STEM careers through enhanced K–12 STEM programs such as science fairs and robotics competitions, as well as through strengthened federal support for teacher training to actively engage K–12 students in STEM research.

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About the Authors

Maya Ajmera is the president and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and publisher of Science News. She received the 2020 Public Service Award from the National Science Board. Ajmera founded The Global Fund for Children, a nonprofit organization that invests philanthropic capital in innovative community-based organizations, supporting the world’s most vulnerable young people. She also authored Invisible Children: Reimagining International Development at the Grassroots (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) as well as more than 20 award-winning children's books, including Children from Australia to Zimbabwe and Every Breath We Take. She is an Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellow.

Rachel Goldman Alper is the Chief of Staff of the Society for Science & the Public. In this role, she works on key special projects and high-priority initiatives. Alper started her career as a sixth-grade teacher in the South Bronx. Before coming to the Society, Alper worked as the Director of Strategic Alliances with the Maker Education Initiative (Maker Ed). She has also previously worked for The Posse Foundation, DC Public Schools, and ePals (now Cricket Media).