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Carver4STEM addresses the middle skills gap which is a growing concern in New Jersey. Middle skilled jobs are those that require less than a four-year degree with many now being integrated into literally every career cluster with industries unable to fulfill the need of its workforce.  Studies show the onset of a shortage within these STEM-related careers that will grow exponentially by the year 2024 . While some studies show numerous efforts to create a pipeline to a STEM-related career through increased efforts in STEM education, other studies indicate that the lack of middle skills preparation will increase for those individuals living in urban or rural communities in New Jersey. Existing evidence also suggest that low performance in mathematics and science for urban and rural students has a negative impact on their desire to pursue a middle skills’ certificate, license, or degree . 

This issue is significantly compounded when there is little to no focus on STEM-related education or careers within the family structure as well). Moreover, the formal STEM learning environment cannot adequately or singularly address the enormous need for STEM education and careers, widening the gap for so many underserved children and communities . As a result, an informal learning approach to STEM education and careers through family habitus may develop STEM-focused students, who aspire to and are prepared for middle skills jobs and/or careers in STEM.

Carver4STEM must be considered as one viable solution to the disparity that exists in the number of minorities pursuing college and career opportunities in STEM, especially as it relates to the number of opportunities available in New Jersey’s middle skills job market.  This research will contribute to this effort by (1) promoting innovation that will expand science & STEM education for urban and rural communities by developing a STEM-focused family habitus initiated by community supporters; and (2) advancing collaboration through a systems approach within urban and rural communities that lead to a community pipeline for college and careers, particularly in STEM.

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