Building Paths to STEM—and a More Equitable Future

Highlights from the Booz Allen Foundation’s 2022 annual report  

As innovations like artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, and cyber transform our world, the demand for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals is increasing exponentially. Closing this gap is an urgent challenge—and a unique opportunity to build a more equitable workforce.

The Booz Allen Foundation is using technology and innovation to seize this opportunity by improving social structures in traditionally underrepresented communities, empowering people to break the cycle of structural impediments, and building generational resilience.

In 2022, these efforts empowered youth in areas from cybersecurity to robotics, engaged employees in the process, and laid the groundwork for a nationwide transformation in AI education.

“We are proud of the progress we have made towards leveling the playing field for underrepresented youth in neighborhoods where we live and work,” says Booz Allen Foundation Executive Director Christine Hoisington.

Read on for highlights from the Foundation’s 2022 annual report.

Powering Progress in Our Own Backyard

In 2022, the Foundation introduced pathbuilder grants in Washington, DC, and San Diego. Not only do these two cities have Booz Allen’s largest offices, but the metropolitan areas also have a high concentration of tech firms, a prevalence of underserved youth, and a breadth of active community organizations to work with.

“These grants support multiple organizations within a community whose collective efforts can inspire and enable underrepresented students and young people to pursue academic and career opportunities in the STEM fields,” says Christine.

In Washington, DC, pathbuilder grants:

  • Introduced 350 girls—65% of whom were from Title I schools—to academic and career experts in the first STEM for Her Day
  • Helped Full STEAM Forward host weekly online experiments for third- and fourth-grade girls
  • Delivered virtual ClubHouse@YourHouse across 15 Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington locations and helped many of the 5,000 participants boost their report card scores
  • Helped Year Up and Spark the Journey launch a pilot mentorship program through the Talent for Tomorrow Alliance for students across Washington, DC; Maryland; and Virginia

In San Diego, pathbuilder grants:

  • Funded AI curricula, STEM scholarships and internships, and a new robotics team for the Elementary Institute of Science, which was founded during the civil rights era to ensure equal access to science programming
  • Initiated plans to support engineering and technology curricula and teachers, college visits, and updated career center technology at Lincoln High School
  • Helped the Girl Scout Outreach Program expand in Southeast San Diego
  • Supported MANA de San Diego’s Hermanitas Youth Mentorship Program for middle school and high school girls and the Tias program for women during their college careers

Employees Extend Our Reach

Tapping into Booz Allen’s value of passionate service, the Foundation engaged its employees to submit proposals for a competitive grants program which resulted in 12 equity grants focused on inclusive STEM pathways. Selected by a review committee of business resource groups and business sectors across the country, each winning grant proposal was chosen based on alignment with strategy, innovation potential, opportunities for engagement, and overall feasibility.

“These employee-nominated equity grants allow us to increase our outreach to communities across the country, especially as the nominating employees commit to staying engaged with the organizations to drive impact even greater than the funding could do on its own,” Christine says.

Equity grants engaged youth from elementary school through college:

  • Enabling Beacon House Community Ministry to host hackathons and cybersecurity education in Washington, DC
  • Supporting Capital Youth Empowerment Program’s STEM Decoded program for elementary schools and “Level Up” program for high schoolers who have been or are in foster care
  • Funding STEM apprenticeships and boot camps for the Drake State Tech College Foundation in Huntsville, Alabama
  • Helping Arlington, Virginia-based Dyslexic Edge launch the first Dyslexic Edge Academy, which included two-year scholarships for Title 1 students

The grants encouraged a wide range of STEM interests, from cybersecurity to the skies above, by:

  • Providing supplies and materials for EastLake Educational Foundation’s robotics and FIRST competitions in San Diego
  • Helping Embolden’s Rising Leaders Fellowship program pair students with career mentors
  • Funding summer and afterschool cybersecurity programs for MySecureKid in Arlington, Virginia
  • Supporting programs by ‘Ohana Kilo Hōkū (OKH) to connect Hawaiian youth with space scientists and astronomers

These grants advanced multiple facets of equity by:

  • Sponsoring technical workshops and conferences nationwide for Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (oSTEM)
  • Funding weekend education and mentorship programs for STEMS4Girls in Tallahassee, Florida
  • Helping Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) recruit, retain, and advance women in cybersecurity careers in the San Diego region
  • Supporting afterschool education and mentoring by the YMCA of Greater Louisville’s Black Achievers Program

Uniting Partners for the Future

Also in 2022, the Booz Allen Foundation launched efforts to bring together key nonprofit, government, and industry stakeholders for an AI Education summit in 2023 to discuss the growing importance of AI education in schools.

Both the convener role in the 2023 AI Education summit and the pathfinder and equity grants—bolstered by a $3 million contribution from Booz Allen—are part of an overall advocacy effort. The Foundation hopes to engage like-minded organizations in innovative collaboration and strengthen the focus on inclusive pathways to advanced tech careers such as AI, data analytics, and cyber.

“At this critical juncture, we’re helping to foster the workforce of tomorrow by helping the country’s underserved youth pursue future-forward STEM careers today,” Christine says of the Foundation’s future plans.

Download the full report  from the Booz Allen Foundation.