While we celebrate and amplify unique perspectives, ideas and experiences within and outside of our walls, it’s our national programs that serve as the foundation for our work to advance equity and strengthen diversity in STEM.

Our national programs create safe, inclusive learning environments that ensure all youth, regardless of their race, ethnicity, sex, gender, ability, geography and socioeconomic status, can benefit from and feel a sense of belonging in STEM.

National Indigenous Youth in STEM Program

40,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth reached annually in over 200 Indigenous communities nationwide.

Actua’s National Indigenous Youth in STEM (InSTEM) is Canada’s first National Indigenous Youth in STEM program designed to break down barriers to Inuit, Métis and First Nations youth engagement in STEM fields. These are barriers that, over time, have contributed to significant disparities in high school and post-secondary participation and completion rates among Indigenous youth. Guided by Actua’s Indigenous leadership team, InSTEM engages Indigenous youth in culturally relevant STEM experiences that build skills and confidence and allow participants to recognize and celebrate their existing cultural knowledge as Indigenous Peoples. InSTEM reaches youth through:

  • in-school workshops for students in grades K-12 where undergraduate student instructors bring to life science and engineering concepts in alignment with territorial and provincial learning outcomes; and
  • community-based, week-long summer land camp programs for youth in grades 1-6 where undergraduate instructors lead youth through a wide variety of locally and culturally relevant experiential learning opportunities in STEM.

Land-Based Learning

Land-based learning and education has been identified by Indigenous community leaders and Elders as key to preserving cultural teachings and to helping youth see themselves in STEM.

Check out our discussion paper on how land-based STEM education can and should be used to align Indigenous ways of knowing with western education systems to advance reconciliation in Canada.

Indigenous Land-Based STEM Education Discussion Paper

Increasing High School Graduation Rates

Actua's For-Credit InSTEM Program - A Northern Perspective

Actua works with Indigenous communities, education authorities, and network members at post secondary institutions across Canada to move the dial on systemic sustainable change in Indigenous education. We are working to advance a new model of for-credit land-based learning specifically designed to increase Indigenous high school participation and graduation rates.

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Land-based learning in combination with a credit is spectacular as it not only lets us explore our roots, but it also allows us to move forward in our high school career – this way we don’t have to pick one or the other.

Ganaaboute Gagne, Ottawa, Ontario

National Girls Program

20,000 girls participate in all-girls programs each year, and 160,000 participate in other programs.

Actua’s National Girls Program, now over twenty years old, inspires girls and young women to fulfill their unique and important role in STEM. These all-girl programs are led by instructors who serve as inspiring role models, mentors and allies breaking down long-standing stereotypes about women in STEM. They encourage girls and young women to explore areas of STEM, like science and technology, where we want more girls and young women to feel empowered. Network members deliver these programs in addition to regular co-ed programming through science clubs, day camps, overnight camps, conferences, career fairs and special events.

As part of our efforts to create inclusive, bias-free learning environments that advance gender equity, the National Girls Program welcomes gender-diverse youth, including but not limited to cis girls, trans girls, non-binary youth, gender non-conforming youth and gender queer youth. We also support gender equity and LGBTQ awareness training for all program instructors and general principles around inclusivity and creating a safe space for learning.

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Girl-Led Content

We are honoured to announce that Actua has been selected as a recipient of the Creating Young Changemakers Award at the Canadian Women Entrepreneur Gala. This recognition celebrates Actua’s unwavering commitment to empowering girls to pursue their passions in STEM through our National Girls Program. For over twenty-five years, this program has been inspiring, educating and supporting girls across Canada, igniting their curiosity and confidence in STEM.

Actua in the North

10,000 youth in Northern Canada are engaged annually in community-based programs.

Actua has been a trusted and valued STEM outreach partner for dozens of communities across the Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, Nunavut, Northern Quebec, and Labrador. Our Outreach Team and network members engage youth in hundreds of school workshops throughout the year and more than 50 weeks of summer camp. Programming includes customized content that showcases Northern science, Traditional Knowledge and connects to Northern economic development opportunities.

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Go Where Kids Are

125,000 youth are engaged by this outreach initiative annually.

Actua’s Go Where Kids Are program recognizes that there are youth in Canada that do not have access to the opportunity to attend a STEM program, even if the program is offered at no cost. To better engage youth living in low-income, under-resourced and rural or remote communities, Actua and our network members partner with youth serving organizations such as Family Resource Centres, immigrant community organizations, Boys and Girls Clubs, YM/YWCAs, and others who already have these youth engaged. Our commitment is to provide sustained programming in these locations, returning each year to strengthen the impact of the programming on the youth we reach.

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National Black Youth in STEM Program

10,000 Black youth reached annually in camps, clubs, workshops and events.

Actua and its network have long recognized that Black youth in Canada are often underrepresented in STEM disciplines due to long-standing stereotypes and a lack of role models.

Actua’s National Black Youth in STEM program aims to dismantle these barriers by providing intentional engagement opportunities for Black youth, empowering them to explore and excel in the fields of STEM. The program recognizes the importance of representation in inspiring the next generation of diverse STEM leaders. By offering role models who share similar backgrounds and experiences, Actua strives to reshape perceptions and foster positive environments where Black youth can thrive. 

Actua’s National Black Youth in STEM program seeks to create tangible pathways for Black youth to pursue STEM education and careers. Actua is actively contributing to a more equitable and inclusive future in STEM fields by ensuring that talent and potential are not limited by pre-existing stereotypes or systemic barriers.


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Black Youth in STEM

Actua Academy

80 credits earned in different courses such as leadership, green industries and interdisciplinary studies.

Actua opens doors to knowledge and empowerment for Indigenous students across Ontario through Actua Academy. Envisioned as more than just a school, Actua Academy’s goal is to educate – and also to inspire and uplift.

Actua Academy is Actua’s secondary high school, registered with the Ministry of Education in Ontario. Although it’s not a traditional brick-and-mortar school, Actua Academy supports Actua programming, including our InSTEM For-Credit land camps, to provide opportunities for Ontario high school students to earn high-school credits. 

All Actua Academy programming follows the Ontario curriculum and works with community and university-based partners to design courses that engage youth in transformative, hands-on learning that count towards the completion of a student’s Ontario Secondary School Diploma. 

But what sets us truly apart? It’s our unwavering commitment to removing barriers to education and increasing Indigenous high school participation and graduation rates. The InSTEM For-Credit model weaves inclusion and confidence-building into every experience, offering land-based learning that connects Indigenous cultures and values with Western STEM concepts, helping to create barrier-breaking educational experiences.