Grant Promotes Learning in YMCA After School Program

The YMCA of Greater Houston received a grant from the Shell Oil Company that has allowed us to deliver, in partnership with the Children’s Museum of Houston, the A’STEAM Program (After school Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) in 123 of our after school sites, to over 3,277 children in need, ages 5-12, in the 2017-18 school year. 

Statistics show that a large number of children from low-income environments reach kindergarten unprepared and that they continue to fall behind in school without proper interventions. The A’STEAM Program’s primary goals are to engage low-income, predominately African American and Hispanic children in grades K-5 in hands-on projects and experiments that improve their STEM skills and knowledge, increase their confidence levels with regards to STEM learning, and prompt favorable impressions about STEM-oriented professions. 

Within the A’STEAM program, the Children’s Museum of Houston (CMH) creates a 28-unit curriculum, trains the staff of the Y to facilitate the curriculum once week for one hour at our after school centers, and performs an assessment of gains in students’ knowledge across the school year, comparing results to a control group at after school centers that do not offer the A’STEAM program. 

In the 2017-18 school year children were exposed to several activities and learned about biology, science, creative design, engineering and had a chance to experiment with math and arts, discovering new talents and developing new skills.


  • 82% of counselors reported that their students exhibited STEAM-related knowledge and skills as a result of engagement in the A'STEAM program (exceeding the target of 80%). 
  • 69% of parents and 88% of counselors found that involvement in A’STEAM had increased children’s ability to develop critical thinking skills and engage in problem-solving. 
  • 97% of parents reported that their children found greater enjoyment in the YMCA’s after school program as a result of the A’STEAM activities. 


The best way to understand how students feel about the A’STEAM experience is to hear directly from them and from our staff.

“My journal is very important to me. I keep all my science notes inside, but I also write other things that have meaning to me. I hope we get to make another journal next year.” YMCA After school participant

“My students are always looking forward to their weekly A’STEAM project. Although it is only one hour of the week it is the hour of the week where they are most engaged. Often they do not want to leave when their parents arrive, because they want to finish their project or help a fellow student finish their project. If parents come early, they often stay to help their children with their science project.” YMCA After school counselor

“My table picked all the same traits for our aliens. After we were all done, all the aliens looked different. I looked at my brother and said, 'That’s why we don’t look exactly alike!' Then everyone else at our table started talking about how they look more like their uncle or sister or grandmother and we understood that our traits come from our entire family. It was really fun to make aliens and learn that at the same time.” YMCA After school participant