(Repost of a December 2023, post on the INCLUDES National Network Blog.)
February 13, 2023 | By Andrea Venezia
One objective within our Equitable Pathways to College and Career team is to highlight projects and initiatives that weave equity-driven practices into the fabric of our work. One such initiative is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF)—NSF’s Eddie Bernice Johnson INCLUDES Initiative (NSF INCLUDES). NSF INCLUDES is one of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas; it seeks to broaden participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) nationwide. In this post, we share exciting updates to our vision for the INCLUDES National Network, a network of more than 4,000 members dedicated to reaching NSF’s vision. SRI leads the INCLUDES Coordination Hub (Hub) with our partners—Quality Education for Minorities and WestEd; collectively, we are opening up new avenues of support for the National Network. We are building momentum for the National Network to be the nation’s go-to entity for people to learn about strategies, practices, and models to create equitable opportunities for people to thrive in STEM fields. Together, we’re fostering a national movement.
It’s a New Phase for the National Network
We’re introducing a new structure to cluster projects based on the intensity of their focus on systems change. In our work, systems change refers to transforming systems that perpetuate inequities, such as fundamentally changing hiring practices or addressing mental models that may shape teaching practices. To support and elevate systems change work, we’re structuring the National Network into three distinct but interconnected Clusters.
Cluster 1 will be an Incubator for systems change-focused projects, such as Alliances and Collaborative Change Consortia, to explore problems of practice while implementing their strategies. In other words, the Incubator is a space for projects to learn, share information about opportunities and barriers, and take collective action.
The Hub will be a backbone for Cluster 1. It will provide project management, data management, and facilitation supports for the projects’ collective explorations. The end result of these explorations will be learnings and recommendations that help document and make the case for the transformational changes occurring across the projects, move policy agendas nationally, and inform learnings for Clusters 2 and 3.
Cluster 2 will be a space for all other INCLUDES-funded projects. This Cluster will support capacity building around scaling, institutionalizing, and sustaining these projects’ efforts, with a focus on moving into systems change-focused work.
Cluster 3 will be open to individuals and institutions that are seeking to broaden participation in STEM but are not funded by the INCLUDES Initiative. This Cluster will receive resources and communications for learning and engaging.
For all Clusters, the Hub will provide support and information through its core learning functions: Shared Measures; Research; Network Engagement, Learning, and Community Building; and Communications. The Hub will be a capacity builder, knowledge developer, knowledge sharer, curator of information, and a connector for all Clusters.
Engagement Opportunities Are Coming Soon
What does this mean for you in the coming months? We’ll be rolling out a series of ways to engage, learn, and co-create this new vision, including:
- A multi-Alliance-led webinar on the effective and equitable application of Improvement Science and Networked Improvement Community frameworks for systems change. Thank you to the ALRISE Alliance, STEM PUSH Network, and the First2 Network for creating this opportunity for the National Network!
- A webinar to learn about recommendations in the new Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE) report, Making Visible the Invisible: Understanding Intersectionality. Thank you to Dr. Ann Quiroz Gates, a CEOSE member and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Director of the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (CAHSI) at the University of Texas at El Paso, for this opportunity to co-create this webinar.
- Webinars on collaborative infrastructure, systems change, and broadening participation. These sessions will focus on measurement and learning.
- Advisory Group and Task Force involvement. These will be opportunities to, for example, shape our research agenda and measurement plans and move learnings and recommendations into broader educational, industrial, and policy contexts. Both groups will aim to ensure that our efforts effectively support the vision of the INCLUDES Initiative. We will share more information soon about how you can join our Advisory Group or Task Force.
- Support for projects nearing completion. This support will focus on sustainability and measurement to ensure lasting impact.
We’ll begin scheduling and providing dates for these engagement opportunities soon. We welcome your ideas and your engagement with us as we live into this new vision — a vision that was deeply informed by your feedback. To discuss these opportunities or share your ideas, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please join the National Network here: https://www.includesnetwork.org!