TAF (Technology Access Foundation) Programs
TAF is committed to changing the trajectory of 20,000 students of color in Washington State public schools every year by 2020 by giving youth the tools they need to excel in a technology-driven world. We have three programs:
Elementary school students in public schools that host TechStart benefit from TAF’s STEM curriculum, which we teach alongside classroom teachers throughout the school year. Students design and program robots for competitions, practice basic computer programming, and more; curriculum also helps them meet math and science standards for their grade level.
STEM Up is an after-school academic enrichment program that strengthens middle school students’ academic and life skills and helps them get ready for college early. Students learn advanced STEM skills like programming, robotics, video game design and more.
TAF Academy is a sixth- through twelfth-grade partner school. The first Academy opened in 2008 and is co-managed through a partnership between TAF and Federal Way Public Schools. Lessons combine science, technology, engineering and math with humanities and the arts, and some are even taught by STEM professionals. 90 percent of students from TAF Academy's inaugural graduating class (2012) were accepted to one or more colleges.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In 2011, our Teacher-Scientist Partnerships program, which brings STEM professionals into TAF Academy's classrooms, was honored as a winner in the national Partnering for Excellence: Innovations in STEM Education competition. TAF Academy was also honored, in 2012, as an Intel School of Distinction for excellence in middle school math education (we won that category in this national contest), and as a Washington State School of Distinction for being in the top 5% of schools statewide in terms of improvement in math and reading.
The success of TechStart has surfaced dozens of teachers and multiple schools that want the program in their classrooms. We do not have the financial capacity to serve them at once, and are mindful of the fact that recruiting and training the number of co-teachers we’d need to support the expanded program needs to be done at the right pace to ensure quality.