The Charm City STEM League (CCSL) is a JHU undergraduate-led program that envisions a future where every student has the opportunity to excel in STEM careers, pursue higher education, and form beneficial relationships with mentors in their community. CCSL volunteer mentors engage students in active learning and scientific inquiry through Science Olympiad, a national STEM competition. 

Each year, over 60 JHU mentors collectively dedicate over 3,600 volunteer hours serving more than 200 Baltimore City students and teachers in grades 3-12 through STEM-focused weekly after school mentoring sessions and STEM events.

Quick Facts

  • 204Baltimore City Students

    In 2022-2023, CCSL served 204 students in grades 3-12.

  • 19Schools

    CCSL partnered with 19 schools throughout Baltimore City in 2022-2023.

  • 68Active Mentors

    In 2022-2023, CCSL had 68 active mentors serving local Science Olympiad teams.

  • 3,600+Volunteer Hours

    Each year, CCSL mentors volunteer over 3,600 hours serving their teams at mentoring sessions, events, and tournaments.

About the Program

CCSL empowers Baltimore City students to pursue STEM education beyond classroom lessons by engaging students in active learning and scientific inquiry through Science Olympiad, a national STEM competition. CCSL aims to inspire young students to explore their STEM passions and instill confidence by supporting their overall academic growth.

CCSL and its mentors are guided by the following core values: 

  • Empowerment: We ignite curiosity and catalyze confidence in our students, teachers, and mentors to empower all to explore their unique STEM passions and reach their full potential. 
  • Equity: We believe in social justice for all and utilize our time, knowledge, and access to resources to build a more equitable STEM education environment for the students and teachers of Baltimore City. 
  • Service: We are a network of dedicated volunteers aiming to responsibly serve the Baltimore City community. We serve so our partner teachers and the next generation of scientists and engineers have the tools and confidence to excel in STEM. 
  • Connection: We are devoted to forming and maintaining strong relationships with our students, teachers, and peers to establish a connected community that promotes lifelong STEM learning through collaboration.

The CCSL program uses a unique combination of small group mentoring, engaging events, and resource services to facilitate student success in STEM.  

  • Mentoring Sessions: The core element of CCSL is weekly, in-person mentoring sessions. A team of 2-4 mentors are assigned to each partner school and travel to their school site each week to lead hands-on activities and provide support to team coaches. 
  • Tournament Support: Mentors provide support at tournaments in direct service to their partner school teams or by supporting tournament logistics. Mentors serve as test writers, graders, and cheerleaders for all participating students at local regional and state tournaments. 
  • Curriculum Resources & Material Kits: Mentors help curate a bank of online curriculum resources for coaches and students to access each year. They also design, pack, and deliver over 100 material kits containing supplies for hands-on activities. All curriculum and kits are provided to partner schools free of charge. 
  • Engagement Events: Mentors plan and host events to engage students between mentoring sessions. This includes an annual “Build It, Study It (BISI)” exploration event and an invitational tournament. Mentors also support local community partners in hosting annual coaches clinics.

The CCSL program is governed by 4 paid student interns and a 6-member volunteer Student Advisory board under the guidance of two full-time staff members. Student Advisory Board members and interns meet weekly and provide critical administrative, logistical and operational support behind the scenes to keep CCSL running successfully each year. Board members and interns are selected via a competitive application process each Spring semester. Meet our current leadership team here. 

The idea for the Charm City STEM League (CCSL) was created during a JHU Intersession class called “Leading Social Change” in January 2012. Four undergraduate students (Amanda Valledor, Julia Zhang, Nathan Bradley, Nour ElSafoury) pitched the idea in a business plan competition and were awarded a $5,000 grant to bring the idea to life. In Fall 2012, Charm City Science League became an official student organization under the Center for Social Concern (CSC) and supported one Science Olympiad team at Barclay Elementary Middle School with a small group of undergraduate mentors. After two years as a successful pilot program, CCSL began expanding to support more teams around Baltimore City. CCSL transitioned to become a CSC program as it continued to grow in size and scope – providing additional support to local schools by providing material kits, hosting events like scrimmages and an invitational tournament, and supporting Baltimore City student competitors at Regional and State tournaments. In summer 2023, CCSL was renamed Charm City STEM League to include the program’s expansion to encompass all elements of STEM educational content and transitioned to the Whiting School of Engineering as a Center for Educational Outreach department program.

Learn more about our current school partners and our community impact here.

[CCSL Mentors] provide an extra layer of support that was crucial to our team’s success…They were so helpful and did a really great job with the students.

Partner School Coach Lakeland Elementary Middle School

I LOVED every activity with all my heart…We got our own freedom for whatever we wanted to learn. All the mentors were SUPER NICE 🙂

6th Grade Participant Hampstead Hill Academy

Get In Touch

Amanda Valledor

STEM Outreach Program Manager
2701 N. Charles Street, Fifth Floor
Baltimore, MD 21218