STAR_Net STEAM Equity Project: Enhancing Learning Opportunities in Libraries of Rural Communities

Public libraries are hubs for lifelong learning, especially in small and rural communities that may not have easy access to the scientific and academic centers in more urban locations.

The STAR_Net STEAM Equity Project will help public library workers in small and rural communities offer outstanding, culturally responsive STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) programming for their patrons, especially often-underreached Latinx populations.

STAR_Net logoApplications for the STEAM Equity Project will open in fall 2020. To be notified when the application period opens, please sign up for ALA’s Programming Librarian newsletter.

The STAR_Net STEAM Equity Project is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Space Science Institute’s (SSI) National Center for Interactive Learning (project lead), Twin Cities PBS (TPT) and their SciGirls program, the Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI), and the Education Development Center (EDC).

This project builds on the STAR Library Network, or STAR Net (where “STAR” stands for Science-Technology Activities and Resources).

Grant opportunity

Up to 12 public libraries will be selected to host traveling exhibitions and lead public programs that will enhance STEAM equity for rural communities.

With support at the national level from the project team as well as local partnerships, the libraries will engage their communities through three STEAM Learning Pathways: 1) STEAM Learning Spaces, seeded by STAR_Net traveling exhibitions, 2) active learning programs, and 3) STEAM Outreach Kits. 

The STEAM Equity project has much to offer library staff with regard to STEAM resources, culturally inclusive and gender equitable strategies, and promising practices for outreach to Latinx families. Participating library staff will be supported in their professional growth through the STAR_Net Community of Practice, quarterly webinars and an in-person workshop on the exhibitions. Library staff and their partners will also be supported in developing STEAM outreach through regional hands-on, practical SciGirls CONNECT training that focuses on designing and facilitating STEAM programs and using STEAM Outreach Kits.

Library staff — even those not directly involved in the project — are invited to join in ongoing conversations and resource-sharing through annual STEAM Equity Workshops at the ALA Annual Conference and online through the STAR Net website. 

Project Advisors

The STEAM Equity Project’s Library Outreach Advisors will provide critical expertise on developing culturally responsive programming and conducting successful outreach to Latinx community members and families. Library Outreach Advisors were selected through a national call and will serve throughout the five-year project term (2020 – 2024).

In addition to Library Outreach Advisors, the STEAM Equity Project will work with Planning and Research Advisors to guide all elements of the project. A roster of project advisors is available here.  

Questions? Contact ALA's Public Programs Office.