In this role, Figueroa oversees the organization’s instructional programs and strategy, checking that everything runs smoothly — and ensuring that it will continue to do so. STEM to the Future helps Black and Latinx K-8 students develop science, technology, engineering, art, and math skills while introducing them to social justice concepts through thoughtfully designed curricula. The organization’s academic focus dovetails with Figueroa’s previous roles as a tutor, educator, and computer science instructor.
As an example of how STEM to the Future develops socially conscious academic skills, Figueroa mentioned a lesson involving 3D design software, in which students practiced by creating wind turbines or solar powered cars. A health justice-centered group focused on school lunches by surveying students, collecting data, and ultimately making informed recommendations to administrators.
Figueroa was initially involved remotely and part time with STEM to the Future, drawing on his experience as a teacher to help design lessons. From there, he recalls, “I got progressively more involved until I joined full time last summer,” at which point he transitioned into the leadership role he has now.
For Figueroa, the best part of his job is simply to “be in community with folks,” he says. “Also, seeing the genius of third through fifth graders firsthand always motivates me to hustle.”