We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Marla Wilson to learn about the STEM Careers Coalition, its partnership with Discovery Education, and Manufacturer’s Day, which is coming up on October 2. Enjoy!
Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to lead the STEM Careers Coalition at Discovery Education?
Thanks, Larry, for chatting with me. I’ve always been a fan of ACE-Ed.org and the work you are doing, so this is a real pleasure.
So, I joined Discovery Education from the non-profit sector, where my career focused on improving equitable access to education and health opportunities within minority groups and under-resourced communities.
I was really drawn to joining Discovery Education because they presented an opportunity for me to focus on my passion for helping all under-represented communities gain access to the educational experiences, which we know will prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s opportunities. I recently marked my one-year anniversary at Discovery Education, and I am looking forward to many more!
What’s the goal of the STEM Careers Coalition, and who are your members?
The STEM Careers Coalition is a dynamic coalition of industry partners that have partnered with Discovery Education to accelerate the creation of a culture of STEM education in K-12 schools nationwide. The STEM Careers Coalition’s mission is to empower educators to teach STEM effectively in the classroom, foster and promote equity and access to quality STEM education, and build the next generation of solution seekers with intentional focus on racial and gender equity.
Current Coalition partners include American Petroleum Institute (API), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Boeing, Chevron, Microsoft and Procter and Gamble (P&G). We are also working with strategic content contributors from Sanofi, GAF, and Horizon Therapeutics. There is a tremendous team of business leaders who are really driving this work, and I am honored to work with them closely each day.
Why is improving equitable access to STEM education so important to these companies and the larger economy?
Well, on a very fundamental level, the members of the STEM Careers Coalition want to prepare all students for future success, and they believe STEM education helps, no matter what career and life choices students make after graduation.
In addition, the STEM Careers Coalition seeks to inspire the students in schools today, to consider a career in one of the growing STEM fields. In either case, the members of the Coalition want to ensure that a zip code does not determine a students’ future. Each member of the Coalition believes that all students should have the opportunity and resources to reach their fullest potential as they explore the wide world of STEM careers and see how STEM fits into their futures.
What efforts have the members of the Coalition taken to improve STEM education?
One of the primary vehicles Coalition members use to improve STEM education is direct investment in schools. Across the country, Coalition members are underwriting the purchase of STEM resources and professional development for under-resourced schools.
This is a critical step as the members of the Coalition are helping to close the funding gap and access gap at the district level and helping schools create the cultures of STEM education that we know students need and deserve.
What resources can educators access to improve STEM education right now? I know Manufacturing Day is coming up on October 2. How are Discovery Education and its partners observing that day?
The Coalition has a lot of great resources available for educators over at stemcareerscoalition.org, so I encourage educators to visit that site. Currently, the Coalition is offering more than 140 STEM curriculum resources for educators, students, and parents to all observe this important day! The resources on our website are available at no cost and designed for any grade level, so I encourage your listeners and readers to check them out today!
In addition, Discovery Education Experience, which is used in school systems across the country, also contains a wide variety of real-world resources educators can integrate into instruction to explore modern manufacturing. So Discovery Education is making available two great options for teachers and students that also support families by bringing fun and engaging education anywhere.
What’s the outlook for more equitable STEM education in the United States?
Overall, I think very good. You know, COVID-19 has really laid bare for all to see the many of the inequities that are prevalent in education.
From my vantage point, the corporate community has seen the immense need in our nation’s schools and is really rallying around the education sector to address the inequities and disparities that were always there but have been highlighted by COVID-19. For this reason, I think the future looks exceptionally bright for today’s students and I think the corporate sector should be prepared for a more diverse, successful, and equitable group of individuals ready to take their place as the STEM leaders of tomorrow.
Marla Wilson is the Executive Director of STEM Careers Coalition from Discovery Education. In this role, Wilson unites the business community to grow the STEM pipeline by preparing 10 million students for the future of work with no cost standards-aligned resources. Previously, Wilson worked as the Senior Director of the ‘Go Red for Women’ campaign for the American Heart Association and Executive Director for the Miami March of Dimes. Originally from Las Vegas, NV, Wilson holds a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma where she studied broadcast and print journalism. Having been raised by a single father, who dedicated his life to teach her the importance of diversity in culture, experience and travel, she soon became compelled to do the same. Today, Wilson strives to make a difference in the lives of children and families globally. Whether consulting with philanthropists on how to make a difference or being the driving force of change through 1 Percent Circle, the exclusive consulting group she founded to match celebrity with mission related initiatives, Wilson commits herself to the advancement of those in need. Wilson is also the proud mother of twins, son Malik and daughter Mijani.