Applications for 2024 are closed. Applications for Summer 2025 will open in December 2024.

Step Up to STEM

Using real-world subjects to challenge rising NC ninth- and 10th-graders

These one week residential summer programs held on the NCSSM-Durham and Elizabeth City State University campuses are designed to provide STEM opportunities and support for students from groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields and college attendance, including but not limited to students who identify as African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, or female; students from low-income households; and students from the three NC U.S. Congressional Districts (1, 3, 11) with the lowest proportion of students pursuing post-secondary education after graduating from high school.

This interactive, interdisciplinary academic program uses exciting real-world subjects to challenge talented rising ninth- and 10th-graders across North Carolina and build their skills in science, math, technology, and communications. The program is free, with applications being open only to current eighth grade students who are residents of North Carolina. Students who are accepted into and complete the program as rising ninth graders (cohort 1 students) are then offered a spot to return for a second summer of programming as rising tenth graders (cohort 2 students).

Step Up to STEM at ECSU:

Note: Students must live in one of the following eastern North Carolina counties in order to be eligible to attend Step Up to STEM at ECSU: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Sampson, Tyrell, Washington, and Wayne

Step Up to STEM at NCSSM-Durham:

Note: Students must live in one of the following North Carolina counties in order to be eligible to attend Step Up to STEM at NCSSM-Durham: Alexander, Alamance, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Cumberland, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Graham, Granville, Guilford, Harnett, Haywood, Henderson, Hoke, Iredell, Jackson, Johnston, Lee, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Moore, Orange, Person, Polk, Randolph, Richmond, Robeson, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Scotland, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Warren, Watauga, Wilkes, Wilson, Yadkin, and Yancey.

Step Up to STEM is made possible by generous financial support from Cisco Systems, the Anonymous Trust Foundation, and the Barber Fund for Underrepresented Minorities for STEM Leadership. The program started through the generous financial support of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, Bayer CropScience, and Duke Energy Foundation.

Cisco Systems
In 2021, Cisco Systems announced its support of Step Up to STEM for three years, beginning in summer 2021. The gift supports Cisco’s efforts to team with nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations to provide funding, technology donations, and expertise to help discover the best ideas to solve social problems.

Anonymous Trust Foundation
The Anonymous Trust’s mandate is to serve rural and underserved communities in Eastern North Carolina. In 2021, the Anonymous Trust Foundation awarded NCSSM a grant to be used on general operating expenses associated with increasing the awareness and participation in the Step Up to STEM and Summer Accelerator programs in Eastern North Carolina, with a particular focus on rural and underserved communities.

Barber Fund for Underrepresented Minorities for STEM Leadership
The Barber Fund for Underrepresented Minorities for STEM Leadership supports NCSSM programs for underrepresented middle and high school students who are pursuing STEM-related fields. This includes expansion of support of Step Up to STEM to other campuses and the Summer Leadership and Research Program.

Key Dates for Summer 2024

December 1, 2023: Application portal opens

January 11, 2024: Step Up to STEM at ECSU Virtual Information Session

January 18, 2024: Step Up to STEM at NCSSM-Durham Virtual Information Session

February 8, 2024: Application portal closes

March 13, 2024: Acceptance decisions emailed

March 27, 2024: Deadline for acceptance contracts to be submitted

June 16-21, 2024: Cohort 2 (NCSSM-Durham)

July 7-12, 2024: Cohorts 1 and 2 (ECSU)

July 14-19, 2024: Cohort 1 (NCSSM-Durham)

Please note the following:
Cohort 1 = rising 9th grade students
Cohort 2 = rising 10th grade students

Step Up to STEM Virtual Office Hours:
The purpose of the Step Up to STEM Virtual Office Hours is to answer any questions that parents, students, and/or educators may have about the Step Up to STEM application process.

December 7, 2024: 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
January 25, 2024: 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Follow Step Up to STEM on social media:

Program Director, NCSSM-Durham

Letitia Hubbard

Instructor of Engineering and Mentorship


Program Director, ECSU

Step Up to STEM


Gerri Cole

Associate Director of STEM Outreach, Equity, and Engagement