Student STEM Enrichment Program

Program Goals

In line with the mission of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, projects that are funded under the SSEP must seek to attain three goals through hands-on activities:

  • improving students’ competence in science and mathematics
  • nurturing student enthusiasm for science and mathematics
  • interesting students in pursuing careers in research or other science-related areas

The activities designed to lead to these goals must align with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study for science and mathematics pertinent to the grade levels of the student participants (see NC Essential Standards). Activities should be "hands-on" as well as "minds-on."


Successful projects generally include the following examples of activities to achieve these goals:

  • helping students learn the basic process skills in scientific inquiry—observing, comparing, measuring (using apparatus), communicating, analyzing, generating, and evaluating
  • providing students with opportunities that will increase their insight into and appreciation of the investigative process
  • supplying students with science-related career information and introducing career prospects
  • connecting science and mathematics to students’ daily lives
    providing an opportunity to use technology in project activities
  • enabling students to interact with scientists
  • providing students with opportunities to explain their knowledge of science and mathematics to others
  • linking students, or providing guidance on how they may link with other ongoing science and mathematics programs
  • involving parents in program activities

Other important attributes of a program are having a targeted and appropriate curriculum, maintaining contact with students, linking other activities to continue development, involving scientists and science teachers, and having a large applicant pool.

Applicants offering summer camps, summer academies, or other summer activities, must provide participating students with a year-round learning activity. These activities may range from web portals to after school clubs and Saturday academies.

Recruitment of Students

Applicants should use a diverse set of criteria and include a plan for targeting specific groups of students, including traditional methods, such as test scores, and nontraditional methods proposed by the applying organization to identify students for participation. Special efforts must be made to reach out to students from traditionally underrepresented groups in the fields of science, mathematics, and technology, including girls, minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Evaluation and Capacity Building

Applicants must evaluate their projects. The evaluation plan should outline efforts that will be used to assess SSEP goals and projected outcomes of student enrichment activities and include innovative plans to increase participation of underrepresented groups in science and mathematics.

In addition, BWF employs an external evaluator to assess the quality and effectiveness of SSEP awards. Student surveys and instructions for program evaluations will be provided. The evaluator will also provide technical assistance in evaluation to individual projects. In compiling their annual evaluation report, the evaluators will then draw upon the standardized data collected by all projects, as well as the internal evaluation reports prepared by project staff. Occasional site visits will be made to individual projects as needed.