About Us

About STEM Advantage

Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. STEM Advantage mentors, prepares, and inspires women and underserved communities for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) providing economic and social mobility, while providing a vetted pipeline of diverse talent to businesses to fill their workforce needs.

We “level the playing field” by empowering talented students, primarily first-generation college students from low-income families, with access to networks, employment, and economic mobility that is overwhelmingly limited to students attending private or elite public universities.

We offer our Scholars program to students earning a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field at eight California State University campuses in Southern California, including the greater Los Angeles region, Orange County, and San Diego. All are Hispanic-Serving Institutions. The CSU is the largest and most ethnically diverse 4-year public university system in the nation.

The Challenge

Why serve college students?  College graduates have an increased earning potential of up to $1 million over a lifetime – and STEM Advantage Scholars are tracking to earn more than $2 million more in their lifetime post-program – yet only 67% of students from low-income households enroll in college nationally vs. 83% of their high-income peers. National college graduation rates for low-income youth show only 11% earn a bachelor’s degree.

Education helps young people realize their full potential, and a bachelor’s degree is the surest path to the middle class.

Why focus on STEM?  The lack of diversity in STEM professions is well documented. Per studies from Pew Center and Million Women Mentors, respectively, Latinx individuals make up only 7% and women make-up only 24% of the STEM workforce. For every 100 female undergraduate students, 12% graduate with a STEM major and only 3% work in STEM fields after graduation.

Diversity matters because STEM jobs pay more, on average, than non-STEM jobs. Plus, 80% of the fastest growing occupations depend upon mastery of STEM skills.

Our Programs

We designed a holistic program for STEM Advantage Scholars that benefits students, their families and communities resulting in a generational impact with a clear and immediate path to address the gender and racial wealth gaps. Program includes:

  • Paid internships to help students gain real-world experience,
  • 1-to-1 Mentors to provide a role model, support, guidance, and coaching,
  • Professional and career development to prepare for their job search,
  • Scholarships to attend classes full-time and graduate with less student debt, and
  • Community to provide a sense of belonging, support, and opportunities to build their network.

Our Freshmen STEM Career Pathways program engages first-year college students, particularly women, Black and Latinx students, provides exposure to STEM career opportunities, drives persistence in a STEM major, and is a pipeline to our Scholars program.

Our new Transfer-focused STEM Career Pathways program launched at two California Community Colleges. The goal is to help community college students understand career opportunities in a STEM field and paths to economic mobility, see the value of and feel motivated to earn a bachelor’s degree in a STEM major, and increase the transfer rate to a 4-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Our program extends beyond graduation supporting alumni with a network of corporate leaders and career development opportunities to help advance their careers.

Partnerships and a collective impact model are key to our success. Leading companies sponsor programs, provide internships and mentors, and hire graduates, including Accenture, Deloitte, Farmers, Google, Qualcomm, Reddit, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and many more.

The Impact

STEM Advantage Scholars (since 2012):

  • 100% graduation rate
  • 100% persistence in a STEM major
  • $75,000 average starting salary, a middle-class wage that students tell us is “life-changing” (400% increase over pre-program salary)

STEM Advantage Scholars say our program is “life-changing” as we empower women, communities of color, and first-generation college students from low-income families with a virtuous cycle:

  1. Preparing women and underserved communities for STEM jobs, which pay more, on average, than non-STEM jobs.
  2. STEM Advantage Scholars earn $75,000 average starting salary, a sustainable middle-class living wage. They can save, buy a home, and build wealth.
  3. Alumni “pay it forward” as role models and mentors for younger students. If they can see it, they can be it.
  4. Children of alumni will grow-up with an expectation of going to college like many children raised in middle- and upper-class families.
  5. This results in a generational impact and clear path to address the gender and racial wealth gaps creating financial security and stability for families and redefining the narratives.

Los Angeles Business Journal has honored STEM Advantage as Diversity, Inclusion + Equity Nonprofit of the Year

To learn more about how you can help STEM Advantage Scholars, please contact our President & Founder Lee Ann Kline at leeann@stemadvantage.org.

Our impact: STEM Advantage Scholars

100% graduation rate with persistence in a STEM major
$75,000 average starting salary
$2.3 million+ in scholarships awarded to date
900 Scholars: 87% are students of color, 72% are first-generation college students from low-income families