STEMM-Up is a job readiness program. It prepares jobseekers for careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine. The program combines learning modules, mentorship, job shadowing, and paid internships. Project partners include Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) and Michigan State University (MSU).

The Need for STEMM-Up

Finding a high-quality job in an in-demand field like STEMM can reduce income inequality and improve quality of life.

For that reason, education and job training after high school is an important path to success. That is especially true for people with disabilities. In fact, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) encourages job training for young people and adults with disabilities. That includes training for STEMM jobs.

But, people with disabilities are less likely to go to college or receive job training after high-school—even though people who do get this training are more likely to find a job and have higher earnings.

Things can be even more difficult for people with disabilities from racial and ethnic minorities. Often, white jobseekers with disabilities are more likely to get job training. They are also more likely to find jobs after training.

STEMM-Up addresses these inequalities. It helps people with disabilities from racial and ethnic minorities to pursue job training, develop their job skills, and find an entry-level job in STEMM.

Our Goals

The overall goal of STEMM-Up is to help people with disabilities find or advance careers in STEMM. To make that happen, STEMM-Up has created online and in-person training modules. These modules are based on social cognitive career theory (SCCT).

What is SCCT?

SCCT looks at why people go after or avoid certain jobs because of:

  • environmental factors (like culture, experiences, education, or family pressures)
  • internal factors (like our beliefs, interests, or expectations) to affect our job possibilities.

Generally, people become interested in jobs they think that they are well-suited for and can succeed in. These interests become goals. Then, these goals lead to actions to achieve them.

But, our environments and experiences can convince us that we cannot succeed at certain jobs. That makes it hard to form interests in them. Likewise, our environment can make it hard to pursue our goals even if we are interested in achieving them.

Building the Right Beliefs

STEMM-Up follows from these findings of SCCT. During the program, jobseekers build their own individual plan for employment (IPE). And by the end, they develop:

  • Confidence in their skills
  • Higher expectations for their careers
  • New interests in STEMM jobs
  • More dedication to following through on their goals

Together, these beliefs and interests will help jobseekers to improve their careers

Support from the Disability Innovation Fund

To support the goals of the program, STEMM-Up received a $15 million grant from the Disability Innovation Fund.

In 2022, the Disability Innovation Fund (DIF) shifted its focus to helping people with disabilities find competitive employment. The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity was one of 15 state agencies to receive a grant.

This grant funding supported the creation of STEMM-Up by a four-organization partnership.

The Partnership

Michigan State University (MSU) and Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) came together to create STEMM-Up.

MRS provides employment services for individuals with disabilities in Michigan. Each year, MRS helps thousands of people find competitive jobs in demanding industries. They also advise and support businesses looking to hire qualified and talented workers with disabilities.

MSU is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in rehabilitation education and training. Their faculty includes researchers dedicated to exploring job placement and training for underserved populations. They also have relationships with employers, job centers, and other training providers.

The Community and Business Advisory Board

To connect with local experts, STEMM-Up also features a Community and Business Advisory Board (CBAB). It includes practitioners, service providers, employers, researchers, and policymakers with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets.

The members of the board will provide input and feedback on community needs, project planning, and the training modules. Together, these board members will make sure that STEMM-Up prepares jobseekers to meet the needs of their local communities.

What is STEMM?

STEMM stands for science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine. STEMM training can help prepare you for a job in any of these fields.

Generally, STEMM jobs pay very well and are in high demand. That’s for two reasons. First, STEMM fields are growing quickly. Second, there are not many qualified candidates. Click here for more information from The Bureau of Labor and Statistics about STEMM jobs.

Of course, many STEMM jobs require a Bachelor’s Degree or more. But, you can also get a lot of STEMM jobs with an Associate’s Degree or just the right training. Some of these jobs include:

  • Machinists
  • Technicians (pharmacy, medical, veterinary, equipment, systems, etc.)
  • Equipment assemblers, installers, and repairers
  • Computer support specialists
  • Medical and therapy assistants
  • Community Health Workers
  • Machine setters, operators, and tenders
  • Plant and System operators

The important thing to remember is that STEMM is a huge category. You can find a job that pays well and fits your interests or education goals.

What is the meaning of our logo?

STEMM-Up logo has two human figures emerging from a lotus flower in green and blue color. They represent a collaboration between vocational rehabilitation services and higher education institutions to help individuals with disabilities from underserved communities pursue and advance careers in the STEMM field.

STEMM-Up stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine, and Upward mobility. The tagline under the logo reads Train. Excel. Advance. The tagline represents the program’s aims to develop job readiness skills for individuals with disabilities through training, coaching, job shadowing, and internships in the fields of STEMM.