Building STEPS (Science Technology Education Partnerships)

Building STEPS wants to equip Baltimore’s brightest students with the tools to propel them to college and on to successful careers. Most of the students with whom Building STEPS works will be the first person in their family to graduate from college. Building STEPS believes that a person’s neighborhood or family situation should not determine what that person can achieve.

Originally started in Washington, DC by The Weinberg Group, Building STEPS re-located to Baltimore in 2000 in order to better fulfill its mission of helping minority high school students become science and technology professionals. Since the start of the program, 80% of those served by Building STEPS are on track to go to college or have already earned a college degree. Compare this number to the less than 9% of Baltimore public school graduates who go on to earn college degrees: the success of Building STEPS is clearly evident and overwhelming.

With a staff of just five, Building STEPS currently serves 112 high school juniors and 61 high school seniors in 10 city high schools. Since its inception, Building STEPS has had 489 program graduates. Volunteers, including Building STEPS’ alumni, also help to fulfill the program’s mission by working 1:1 with high school seniors to ensure that every student submits a well-written and clearly articulate college essay.

High school juniors with at least a 3.0 GPA and an interest in science and technology are invited to apply to the program. Building STEPS works with ten Baltimore Pub-lic schools and hopes to add three more schools by spring 2018. The program connects students with organizations involved in science and technology in order to expose students to careers in the science and technology fields. For in-stance, students visited a unique science lab, the Carnegie Institution for Science, housed on the grounds of Johns Hopkins University, to learn more about the zebrafish being studied at the Carnegie Institution’s BioEYES lab. Also, the program includes a Junior Seminar Series hosted by local businesses and institutions and a Summer Experience including weekly professional and academic programming. Building STEPS also offers its students College Workshops to guide students through the college admissions process, including the financial aid process. College Connect offers services and resources to ensure students’ success in college. Lastly, the Alumni Services promote career development and support.

Approximately 1/3 of Building STEPS graduates not only finish college but go on to earn a post baccalaureate degree. Locally based companies, such as McCormick & Company, PayPal, the National Institutes of Health and the National Aquarium, have all added Building STEPS graduates to their work forces. Still, Building STEPS would like additional resources to expand their program. Any Circle member interested in learning more about Building STEPS or volunteering should contact the grantee at 410-704-7837.