Last Tuesday, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hosted the fourth “The Time is Now: Advancing Equity in Science & Technology” roundtable.

The session, entitled “Emerging Models and Pathways for Success II: Community Centered Research, Participation, and Engagement” focused on learning about effective approaches to advancing equity by increasing participation in, and use of, science and technology by under-engaged and underserved communities, through programming and partnerships that are responsive to their local needs and interests.

The goal of this roundtable was to understand effective approaches to the successful deployment and maintenance of these community-centered programs, spaces, and initiatives. We also hoped to gain a better understanding of how success can be defined and measured with community priorities in mind.

During this meeting, OSTP Director, Eric Lander, and OSTP Deputy Director for Science and Society, Alondra Nelson, engaged with the participants about their experiences building successful community-led or community-partnered programs that remove barriers to participation in, and use of, science and technology. They also discussed the lessons that participants have learned that have helped to improve their effectiveness and impact over time.

Participants discussed the necessity of building long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with community organizations grounded in respect for community agency, norms, and knowledge; pursuing areas of scientific inquiry and technological development that address community priorities; and acknowledgement of past, and in some cases, ongoing exclusion, injustice, and inequity towards communities as a pathway to building trust. They noted opportunities for institutional accountability in the Federal administration of science and technology funding to ensure that community-based researchers and organizations have equitable access to Federal resources, as well as meaningful inclusion in advisory and leadership roles in Federal STEM agencies.

Community-based science and technology practitioners make real a fundamental hope for a robust, thriving, and equitable STEM ecosystem: the full participation in, and stewardship of science and technology by and for all people. Learning from promising practices, programs, and spaces that have demonstrated how to effectively engage a broad diversity of communities will help the Federal government partner in this work of increasing equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility, while supporting innovation from all parts of this Nation.

This was the fourth session of OSTP’s “The Time is Now” series. This five-part series is designed to foster candid and robust conversation with researchers, thought leaders, and advocates on themes related to STEM equity, and to gather valuable feedback that can assist OSTP in ensuring that our national STEM ecosystem is preeminent, equitable, and inclusive. More information about our previous roundtables, in honor of Disability Pride Month; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism in STEM; and Emerging Models and Pathways for Success in Academic and Institutional Contexts can be found in their respective readouts, here, here and here.

If you have ideas on advancing STEM equity, please email us at equity@ostp.eop.gov.

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