BranchOut!, a 21st Century Multicultural STEM Education Project, aims to promote STEM education and close achievement gaps by promoting cultural understanding and civic engagement. As a youth community outreach program, we work to connect communities by promoting a passion for learning as well as establishing a place for collaboration, support, and inspiration.
BranchOut! was inspired by a talk by former Dean Jim Ryan of Harvard Graduate School of Education and Dr. Chad Womack of the United Negro College Fund in late 2015. The talk was about how to prepare students for the 21st century careers and develop students’ interest in STEM. Dr. Wu, a Harvard alumna, responded to the call to action. In a few short months, BranchOut! was created to bridge achievement and cultural gaps in the current system.
The program began in 2016 with 20 high school students from the DC area who served as mentors at the DC International Charter School. Since then, we have expanded to include 600 students volunteers coming from 4 different states serving 14 locations/organizations, including FCPS, MCPS, HCPSS, Patrick Henry Family Shelter, and the James Lee Community Center.
The program is continuing to grow with support from members of Congress and prominent school board officials. Through our student leadership program, we hope to create a diverse future in STEAM education!
Veritas Education Leaders
Veritas Education Leaders, a 501 (c) (3) organization, is BranchOut!'s parent organization. We believe in the importance of lifelong learning and are in the continual pursuit of fresh ideas and growing together with our communities and students. We do this by strengthening our student leaders' thinking and motivating them to live their best lives. Our goal for our students is to live ethically, think critically, communicate clearly, produce creatively, and as a result, grow organically.
BranchOut! Howard County Chapter
The Howard County Chapter of BranchOut! (BranchOut! HoCo) was established in May of 2019. This chapter is managed by the Howard County Chinese School (HCCS) and has initiated many community outreach projects in the Howard County as well as the Baltimore area since its inception. Under the leadership of Dr. Meina Liu, Ms. Cuiwei Zhao, and other HCCS board members, the chapter started a tutoring program and has been serving the Howard County Autism Society since fall of 2020. BranchOut! is also a proud partner of the Howard County Public School System.
For awarded the Gold Star Group volunteer award
from the Fairfax Neighborhood and Community Services organization.
What Makes BranchOut! unique?
Guided by education theory:
BranchOut! mentors learn how to teach students of various age groups effectively and are supervised by trained and experienced educators as well as other experts in the fields of mentoring, motivation, learning, and cultural sensitivity.
BranchOut! is cross-cultural in nature, allowing student mentors to enhance their cultural awareness and communication skills. It is managed and led by a Harvard alum with the aim to address learning and cultural gaps.
After the BranchOut! team mentored a group of middle schoolers in a summer remedial program at the DC International School, an analysis conducted by the school found that students who received mentoring from BranchOut! outperformed students who did not by 13 percentile points in math.