Scaling STEM Equitably: Practitioner Driven Reflections and Emerging Guidelines

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In May 2023, practitioners across the informal STEM landscape gathered in Washington, D.C., to challenge the ways we conventionally scale informal STEM programs and collaboratively brainstorm new paths forward that center equity. Now, a year later, we will share a set of emerging guidelines and a new tool that supports equitable approaches to scaling informal STEM programs.

In this webinar recording, the National Girls Collaborative Project, Education Development Center, and practitioners across informal STEM learning spaces share reflections from the field on the challenges and opportunities of engaging in equity-centered scaling.

The Scaling STEM Equitably: Practitioner Driven Reflections and Emerging Guidelines was hosted by NGCP and EDC on June 4, 2024.

To view and download the resources discussed in this webinar, including the Guidelines for Equitably Scaling Informal STEM Programs and the Collaborative Decision-Making Tool for Equitably Scaling Informal STEM Programs, go to:


This work is supported by the National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning under Grant No. DRL-2214449.

Tara Cox - brunette with long hair wearing a black shirt

Tara Cox

Senior Manager of Programs and Partnerships, NGCP

Tara Cox is the Senior Manager of Programs and Partnerships at NGCP and is the Principal Investigator of Advancing the Conversation on Scaling National Informal STEM Programs (NSF). Tara has over a decade of experience developing, managing, and leading informal STEM education programs, including Leap into Science (NSF) in partnership with The Franklin Institute and Libraries as Community Hubs for Citizen Science (IMLS), in collaboration with Arizona State University and SciStarter. Tara is passionate about growing and supporting STEM projects that strive to broaden the participation of historically excluded communities. Tara holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Barnard College, Columbia University. Her past experiences include working at The American Museum of Natural History in New York, NY, and The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA.

Emily Early

Emily Early

Senior Program Manager, NGCP

Emily Early is a Senior Program Manager at NGCP, where she leads numerous national informal STEM education programs. She is passionate about creating sustainable projects and systems that address accessibility and meaningful engagement in STEM for historically excluded communities. Emily is currently the co-principal investigator of “Advancing the Conversation of Scaling National Informal STEM Programs,” an NSF-funded knowledge-building effort bringing together practitioners in informal STEM education to examine what scale looks like across informal learning settings. Emily's experience includes project design and management, professional development and outreach programming, communications, data management, and partnership development. Emily holds an M.S. in Arts Administration from Drexel University's Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. While earning her master's degree, she studied nonprofit management and leadership.

Erin Stafford - woman with short red hair wearing long sleeved coral colored top

Erin Stafford

Project Director, Education Development Center

Erin Stafford, M.A. has extensive experience collaborating with national nonprofits, federal and state agencies, foundations, cultural institutions, and community organizations to scale their programs, answer their research and evaluation questions, and support organizational learning and data use. With a focus on culturally responsive evaluation and capacity building, Stafford has collaboratively designed and implemented evaluation projects funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), U.S. Department of Education (ED), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Currently, Stafford is the co-principal investigator of the national convening “Advancing the Conversation of Scaling National Informal STEM Programs,” which is co-led with the National Girls Collaborative Project and recently co-led evaluation and learning partnerships focused on equity with the MacArthur Foundation and the National Park Foundation. Prior to EDC, Stafford served as manager of research, evaluation and assessment for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana and as an internal evaluator at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. She has an M.A. in Social and Cultural Foundations in Education and a graduate certificate in Women and Gender Studies from DePaul University.

April Caldwell - Woman with curly black hair and glasses wearing white shirt

April Caldwell

Chief Program Officer, Girls Inc. of NYC

April Caldwell is the Chief Program Officer at Girls Inc. of New York City, where she leads program development and implementation focused on empowering young women through education and advocacy. Prior to her current role, April was the Vice President of Affiliate Advancement and Programs at the National Black Child Development Institute. There, she was instrumental in delivering culturally relevant resources to support the unique needs of Black children across various sectors including education, health, and family engagement. 

April earned her degree from Colgate University and began her career at Harlem Children’s Zone, a pioneering initiative known for its comprehensive approach to enhancing educational outcomes for children in underserved communities. This role solidified her dedication to educational equity and reform.  With nearly two decades of experience in nonprofit leadership, April is adept at navigating organizations through periods of transition and crisis. She has consistently demonstrated a deep commitment to social justice, focusing on designing and scaling impactful programs for children, youth, and families in under-resourced communities.

Her work extends to substantial contributions in community outreach and engagement at both local and national levels. April brings her expertise in program development and a passion for leveraging education as a tool for empowerment and social change. 

Sheila James - woman with brown hair in locs wearing gray blazer and pearl necklace

Sheila James

STEM Consultant, Ohio Afterschool Network

For over 25 years, Sheila has been a dedicated advocate for children and a passionate supporter of youth. Throughout her career, Sheila has emerged as a leader among her peers, actively driving the enhancement of quality and consistency in the site experience. Her leadership manifests through coaching, training, and mentoring endeavors, both nationwide and in her local community of Central Ohio. With the intent of delivering best practice information and relevant resources and updating significant changing trends in the out-of-school time field, Sheila is committed to advancing children’s learning and social development by equipping those who work in programs with impactful tools they need to be successful. 

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