AP STEM Access program

The College Board is thrilled to announce the AP STEM Access program, an initiative created to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented minority and female high school students that participate in Advanced Placement® (AP) courses in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines. A $5 million grant made from Google as part of their Global Impact Awards to DonorsChoose.org will enable public high schools across the country to start approximately 500 new AP math and science courses and to encourage traditionally underrepresented minority (black/African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic/Latino) and female students who demonstrate strong academic potential to enroll and explore these areas of study and related careers.

Program Overview

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs over the last 10 years. STEM jobs are expected to grow by 17 percent during the 2008-2018 period versus 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM jobs. As a nation, we are not graduating nearly enough STEM majors to meet this need. African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino and female students in the U.S. are less likely to study math and science in college or pursue related careers than their counterparts. As an example, although females were awarded 57 percent of the 1.7 million bachelor degrees in 2009-2010, they only received 17 percent of engineering degrees, 18 percent of computer science degrees, and 41 percent of science degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

In part, this is because these students are not exposed to adequate advanced classes in the STEM disciplines during high school. Research shows that students who took AP math and science were more likely than non-AP students to earn degrees in physical science, engineering and life science disciplines — the fields leading to some of the careers essential for America's future prosperity.

National analyses show that among students with comparable levels of readiness for AP STEM course work, participation rates vary significantly across race and gender. For example, participation in AP course work in mathematics varies among students who have at least a 60 percent likelihood of succeeding on an AP mathematics exam: 6 in 10 Asian students participate, 4 in 10 white students, 3 in 10 black/African American and Hispanic/Latino students, and 2 in 10 American Indian/Alaska Native students; in most AP STEM subjects, female students participate at lower rates than male students. In many cases, schools serving large numbers of traditionally underrepresented minority students do not yet provide AP course work in STEM disciplines. The schools participating in this program will share the goal of working toward increasing the availability and diversity in AP STEM classrooms overall so that these classes reflect the diversity of the school.

The funding will help open the doors for more underrepresented minority and female students to access rigorous AP STEM course work in high school and lay the foundation for their future success in college and beyond.

"DonorsChoose.org is honored to be recognized by this groundbreaking award program that supports innovative organizations that are making a real difference. The funds will open the door for bright, eager students and teachers who would otherwise be shut out of advanced learning and a promising career path."

Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org.

"There are hundreds of thousands of talented students in this country who are being left out of the STEM equation — they're not being given the opportunity to find their passion or pursue today's most promising career. We're focused on creating equal access to advanced math and science courses, and ensuring that advanced classrooms become as diverse as the schools themselves."

Jacquelline Fuller, director of Giving at Google


December 4, 2012: Google, DonorsChoose.org and the College Board publicly announce the qualifying schools for the AP STEM Access program, which focuses on public high schools that have many underrepresented minority or female students with high potential to be successful in AP STEM courses that are not currently offered.

December 13, 2012, and January 10, 15, and 23, 2013: Qualifying schools have the opportunity to participate in webinar presentations to learn more about the program and ask questions.

November 2012-February 2013: Qualifying schools will have the opportunity to sign up for the program.

March 28, 2013: Deadline for participating schools to return their MOUs and for teachers to register for AP Summer Institute.

April–August 2013: Teachers participating in the program request their classroom materials, including textbooks, lab equipment, calculators and other materials for student use, on DonorsChoose.org using DonorsChoose.org gift cards.

Fall 2013: Participating schools begin their new AP STEM courses.

Spring 2014: Students take their AP Exams.

Summer 2014: All AP STEM teachers in the participating schools (not just the new AP STEM teachers), who increase diversity in their class, receive a DonorsChoose.org gift card for each student in the course who receives a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP Exam.


To achieve the shared goal of increasing student participation in rigorous AP STEM course work and to focus the funding on schools with the most unmet student potential and need, Google and DonorsChoose.org worked with the College Board to develop the following data-driven criteria. The College Board used its data to determine which schools met the criteria, all of which are being invited to participate in the program.

  1. They are public high schools in the U.S.
  2. They have historically had a population of underrepresented students that were academically prepared for rigorous course work in AP STEM as indicated by their high scores on the PSAT/NMSQT® (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). Specifically, in the 2010-11 academic year they had 10 or more black/African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino students — and/or 25 or more female students — with high potential to be successful in one or more AP college-level STEM courses that were not currently offered at the high school in the 2010-11 academic year. For this criterion, high AP potential is defined as 70 percent or higher likelihood of scoring a 3, 4 or 5 on the AP Exam.
  3. They serve communities with a median household income of $100,000 or less and/or 40 percent or more students qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals.

Recommended Supply Lists