Tool #1: An Introduction to Authentic STEM

Putting theoretical learning into concrete practice creates a new world of possibilities.

By participating in Authentic STEM, students ranging from middle school to seniors in high school, apply what they learn in the classroom into practice. The program allows them to connect how their classroom learning is applied in the real world.  It also gives them the confidence to think creatively and apply STEM concepts they may not know they possess.

The results are impressive as students become a part of the participating company and its culture.  They get to engage in understanding the company’s mission, vision, and scope of work through mentorship. The students also help companies solve problems they would not otherwise address.

This partnership engages students to become highly-adaptive and experienced in working across cultures and languages. It also builds genuine relationships between a region’s STEM sector and their potential future workforce, creating a unique win-win.

Authentic STEM  is continually recognized by U.S. and German diplomatic communities and parliamentarians.

The reasons for this recognition are:

  • Local. The business community is engaged in a meaningful partnership with local schools which enables them to become familiar with their region’s future workforce. The program creates a direct link from schools to larger economic development plans designed to become a long-term solution to workforce and STEM-related skills shortages.
  • National. In the U.S., Authentic STEM departs from the traditional federal funding of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)-based workforce development programs, which has variable degrees of success. Unlike WIOA, which has strict rules as to whom can be served, Authentic STEM is designed for any student to participate, regardless of income or pre-defined barriers to skills attainment or employment. Because of this inclusiveness, the program has attracted a variety of private funding sources which are key to the program’s success as it allows for flexibility.
  • International. The biggest challenges require international partnerships. The development of workforce skills to support energy security and the goals associated with climate change call on all of us, and especially young people, to look beyond traditional borders to find the answers. Authentic STEM introduces students to a global working environment that reflect what companies are faced daily and where they can recognize shared challenges and support each other to reach a successful outcome.
The Toolkit is made possible by the generous support of theWorkforce Development Institute (WDI)

The energy surrounding the original Authentic STEM pilot as an innovative workforce and education program embraced by the business community was present from the start. The NCWP’s partners at the Workforce Development Institute (WDI) of New York State understand the potential of the program while supporting a practical strategy for sharing this successful experience with other local areas. This Authentic STEM Toolkit is made possible thanks to their generous support.

The North Country Workforce Partnership, Inc.

The North Country Workforce Partnership, Inc. is a regional workforce and economic development leader, serving as a central hub connecting businesses, organizations, and current and prospective workforce members. NCWP is committed to empowering the North Country’s workforce to thrive through inclusion and diversity. The NCWP supports the North Country Workforce Development Board activities through program development, grants, real estate, and other workforce development-related activities. 

The NCWP is located in Plattsburgh, NY and is engaged in the development and implementation of Authentic STEM throughout NYS’ North Country region – and beyond.  This is accomplished in partnership with the University of Siegen, located in the German North Rhine-Westphalia state.

Under the NCWP and the University of Siegen’s leadership, Authentic STEM has been recognized as the future of education and workforce development. And the future is here!

Since its implementation in February 2022, Authentic STEM has been recognized by the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB), the New York Association of Training and  Employment Professionals (NYATEP), the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the U.S. Consulate in Düsseldorf, local North Rhine-Westphalia and NYS elected officials and was mentioned by NYATEP as an innovative best practice during Executive Director Melinda Mack’s testimonial on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in February 2022.

The NCWP and the University of Siegen recognize that to implement Authentic STEM successfully, participating organizations need to create meaningful partnerships with schools, businesses, economic development agencies, higher education, technical education and others.

Because the success of Authentic STEM depends on these partnerships, the NCWP has developed a Toolkit to help other regions evaluate their readiness for Authentic STEM.  The Toolkit will ensure Authentic STEM program’s quality is sustained for maximum outcome.

Overview of the role of the NCWP in expanding Authentic STEM beyond the North Country

Because the success of Authentic STEM is so dependent on partnerships, the NCWP has implemented a system to ensure the program’s quality is not compromised as it expands beyond the North Country and NYS.

Being a non-profit organization means the NCWP will authorize participating organizations to implement Authentic STEM and act as the funding intermediary. All funds raised through the companies’ problem-related commitment(s) will be managed and expenses related to Authentic STEM will be coordinated by the NCWP, including an administrative fee.Depending on the agreement between the NCWP and the participating organization, funding can be made available to the participating organization.

Representatives of the NCWP and the University of Siegen can provide an overview of Authentic STEM, answer questions and help local areas evaluate whether this program can be successful.  Additionally, when a region decides to implement Authentic STEM, the representatives are available, on a contractual basis, to provide on-site or virtual training, program development assistance, and other consulting services as needed. The cost of such services are made on a per-organization basis, depending on a variety of factors, including organizational funding ability through company participation, travel needs, resources required, etc.

What is the Authentic STEM Toolkit?

The Toolkit will help local areas to:

  • Identify if the local and/or regional area is ready for Authentic STEM and eliminate the risk of failure
  • Identify the partners needed for a successful Authentic STEM outcome
  • Replicate the program while customizing certain elements to fit the local and/or regional area
  • Achieve success by having local and/or regional companies work directly with schools and their future workforce
  • Engage middle schools and high schools in discovering the available career pathways that exist within the participating region
Ready to get started?

Please contact the NCWP for additional information or if you have any questions at

The NCWP team will review the submitted information and respond with the next steps shortly. Stay tuned!