South-Central Section - 51st Annual Meeting - 2017

Paper No. 28-9
Presentation Time: 4:30 PM


MOORE, Samuel, HOFER, Matthew and HASH, John, Outreach and Diversity, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, 10100 Burnet Road, Bldg 196 (ROC), Austin, TX 78758,

GeoFORCE Texas is a collective impact initiative with the mission of increasing the number of students pursuing STEM degrees in college, with an emphasis on degrees leading to careers in the geosciences. A collective impact is described by John Kania and Mark Kramer in the Winter 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review as “the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.” The important actors are the major energy corporations headquartered in Houston, foundations, Houston Independent School District,19 rural independent school districts in Southwest Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission, the US Geological Survey, and the Jackson School of Geosciences. Representatives from each of these organizations provide mentoring for GeoFORCE students. GeoFORCE provides mentoring for the students in field courses, corporations, government agencies, and university laboratories.

The social problem is a projected dwindling geoscience workforce unprepared for an estimated 50 percent reduction in the next decade, as geoscientists are playing an increasing role in addressing global challenges such as clean affordable energy and water, preparedness for natural disasters, and imbalances in earth’s interdependent interacting subsystems. All of the actors have the common agenda of assuring a diverse geoscience workforce. GeoFORCE alum of the high school program are enrolled in 110 different colleges nationwide. In Fall of 2016, 58% of alum of GeoFORCE were declared STEM majors. Of the STEM majors, 23% are in the geosciences, 20% in engineering, and 20% in biology. After 12 summers of weeklong field experiences, GeoFORCE Texas has engaged over 1,600 high school students with mentors in the geosciences. As of Fall 2016, GeoFORCE Texas has 654 students enrolled in college. 161 Bachelor’s degrees and 75 Associate’s degrees have been earned to date. As of 2016, 80% of the high school participants are minorities. The success of GeoFORCE’s mentoring efforts were recognized by the White House in 2015 with the awarding of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.