The Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub was chartered in 2015 by the Jacksonville business community under the leadership of Gary Chartrand. These leaders noticed that there was a disconnect between the skills that students would need to be ready for the careers of the 21st century, and the experiences that students were receiving through their formal education.
Gary’s unique perspective, serving as a Florida State School Board member for eight years, along with is transformational work in the business community, allowed him to unite the Northeast Florida region around the pivotal needs to sustain a robust talent pipeline and to prepare all students for the career opportunities that await them. The Northeast Florida region was defined by the JAX USA and economic development partnerships to include the counties of Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns.
The quality of education is of critical importance to attract business to our community. Jacksonville is now the 5th fastest growing market and is the twelfth best city for young professionals, according to the chamber. At the onset of the STEM2 Hub, it was critical to take a cross-sector, collaborative approach to the work that was to be undertaken. Therefore, the STEM2 Hub Board of Directors was chartered to include an Education Advisory Board.
The seven superintendents of the school districts within the geographic region, along with the college presidents of the universities serving the region hold a seat on the advisory board. All parties came together and commission a task force to complete a study and analysis of the State of STEM in Northeast Florida. This study was undertaken as a collaborative process across the entities represented on the boards. A SWOT (Strengths / Weaknesses /Opportunities/Threats) model was utilized. The study was used to identify strengths and opportunities for this region. The mission of the STEM2 Hub was developed from the findings of the study.
The mission of the STEM2 Hub is to “convene, inspire, and invest in the STEM2 field by providing the essential missing elements to accelerate the growth of STEM2 education and careers.” The STEM2 Hub launched with a public convening of stakeholders held at the University of North Florida and was attended by hundreds, representing the business community, nonprofits, K-12 educators and leaders from all seven counties, and universities serving the region. This convening presented the opportunity for all sectors to develop an understanding of the state of STEM and the workforce that would be needed to sustain economic growth and prosperity.
And then the work began! Now led by executive director, Kathleen Schofield, a visionary leader who sets goals considered impossible by many, the STEM2 Hub is developing deep and meaningful relationships and partnerships across and within the seven counties and beyond, fostering a spirit of mutual trust and collaboration. The goal of the work is to move our region towards a strong and robust education system that is fully aligned with the needs of our local economy.
The work drives system change, according to Schofield. “We serve as a disruptive influence, working to assure that all students have access to the vital skills for the jobs of tomorrow. Critical thinking, project-based learning, application of key math and science concepts, and the infusion of technologies, such as robotics, drone technology, augmented and mixed reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as a developed understanding of data through technology are skills and proficiencies needed by all students if they are to be successful in the career pathways of the future. And this work must begin with the youngest of students”.
Kathleen Schofield, Executive Director
The STEM2 Hub is part of something bigger, the global STEM Learning Ecosystems Communities of Practice. Through participation in this organization, the STEM2 Hub now networks with communities in all settings from various ecosystems around the globe who are working to find solutions to many of the same challenges. Best practices are shared through biannual convenings.
The STEM2 Hub’s Board of Directors is committed to the mission and represents a blend of companies that are counting on us to help develop a robust talent pipeline for a strong economic future. Our board includes Acosta Sales & Marketing, Alluvion Staffing, Auditmacs, Bethesda Farm, Black Knight Financial, Citi, CSX, FIS Global, Greenshades Software, Guidewell/ Florida Blue, Haskell Corporation, The Jax Chamber, LEGO Education, The PGA, TIAA Bank, , Ullmann Brown Wealth Advisors, Urban Mining Tech Rescue, Web.com, Wells Fargo Bank, and Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
The Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub