STEM2 Hub helps students prepare for the jobs of the future


In 2015, Jacksonville business leaders, seeing a disconnect between what future employees were learning in school today and the skills they would need in tomorrow’s workplace, got together to do something about it. The result is a nonprofit tasked with helping to bridge those gaps.

Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub seeks to assure that all students in the seven-county region have the opportunity to engage in high quality experiences that will open doors to those careers. The key to success resides in partnerships. STEM2 Hub brings together schools, colleges, nonprofits, businesses and industries, each supplying its own piece of the puzzle to meet this demand.

“We believe that every child needs these opportunities,” said Executive Director Kathleen Schofield, “and we work to help them get access.”

It’s an ambitious effort, but data shows that it is beginning to pay off.

STEM2 Hub has tracked the success of its efforts, and the result is encouraging. There has been a near-exponential growth in the numbers of students taking advanced placement computer science classes and scoring well on related assessments. At the same time, math and reading scores are improving, and behavior referrals are down because students are engaged in the curriculum.

Increased enrollment in a computer science program of study has been reported by local colleges. 

How it works

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — shorthand for curricula that prepares students for employment in an increasingly technological workplace. STEM2 Hub added a second M — thus, the 2 in its name — to stand for Medicine, a big part of the Northeast Florida employment landscape.

STEM2 Hub looks at the cutting-edge jobs that will be in high demand and reverse-engineers the preparation process. It asks: What needs to be done, beginning with the youngest students, to grow their knowledge and interest in these fields?

The nonprofit addresses the need in a number of ways. It advocates for future teachers’ preparation so they might incorporate more STEM into their own classrooms, and it conducts a lot of teacher professional development in STEM fields. It provides robots, programs and registration fees, not just to the schools, but also to the various organizations that conduct afterschool, and extra-school, programs. It hosts STEM conferences, an annual computer science festival and student competitions.

One area of special concern is what STEM2 Hub calls the “digital divide.”

“There are still a lot of children who don’t have a computer,” Schofield said. “Many of the districts have gotten to where they have access in school, or maybe they even take them home, but then when summer comes, their learning has to stop.”

To address this, STEM2 Hub partners with businesses that are planning to replace their computers. They donate the ones they no longer need and then Auditmacs, a telecommunications service provider in Jacksonville, cleans the data and refurbishes the computers, which are then provided to the students. In 2020, the PGA Tour donated 500 computers in this way.

Partnerships are critical to STEM2 Hub’s mission, and one of the key collaborators is industry. Corporations like CSX bring in industry professionals to talk to students about careers, and not just the ones everyone knows about, but also those that are often “hidden.”

This is especially critical for students whose parents don’t work in high-tech jobs and therefore have no one to set that example.

“It comes down to: If they don’t see themselves in the careers, they’ll never pick them, because they just don’t know about them,” said Schofield.

Among STEM2 Hub’s many partners are LEGO Education, Woz ED and, the sources for many necessary tools and processes. The local nonprofit takes what is available and adapts it for use with the school systems’ pre-existing standards.

STEM2 Hub supports a program in Duval County Schools called Spacegate Station, a live streaming video-based platform in which students solve problems using embedded math and science skills. It also offers the Chief Science Officer program, in which one student in many of the local middle and high schools serves as the STEM advocate.

“We just bring everybody together and bring in our particular lens and then help bring in resources, including that training, which is huge,” said Schofield.

Getting the word out

Northeast Florida’s success in addressing this need has made it a kind of model for other states and other nations. In December, the Heritage Foundation is bringing people from several NATO embassies to see firsthand how all of this works.

In addition, STEM2 Hub will be the nonprofit for this year’s EnterCircle Summit, a three-day event at the link in Nocatee that inspires, connects, educates and cultivates entrepreneurship in the region. STEM2 Hub’s program director, Celeste Sciandra, will conduct a workshop for students and its director of partnerships, Melissa Wright, will talk to summit attendees about what the organization does and how it taps into resources.

For those wanting to get involved in STEM2 Hub’s mission, there is a need for mentors, speakers and robotics team coaches. In addition, the nonprofit accepts financial support so as to carry out its mission. Companies looking to replace their computers may also donate them to be refurbished and supplied to students in need.

For further information, go to

For information about EnterCircle, go to