May 27, 2014

Chicago Public Schools Wins Competitive Stem Grant at White House Science Fair

Grant Will Help Bolster Citywide STEM Strategy to Triple the Number of Students with STEM Credentials by 2018

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO— At the White House Science Fair, Chicago Public Schools today was awarded a competitive grant through the US2020 City Competition, which challenged cities and school districts to develop innovative models for increasing the number of STEM professionals mentoring students and increase STEM opportunities for girls, minority students and children from low-income families. CPS students have been participating in the White House Science Fair.

“A high quality STEM education opens the door of opportunity for our students to explore new interests, build new technology, and discover scientific breakthroughs that will define the future of our City,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Our goal as a City is for every child to be 100% college ready and 100% college bound, and this grant is part of our larger efforts to prepare our children to be the next leaders in the 21st century highly-specialized, technical economy.”

Chicago was one of seven cities and school districts to receive this grant including Indianapolis, Indiana; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Francisco, California; Wichita, Kansas, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina and Allentown, Pennsylvania. The seven winning cities will share $1 million in expert consulting and staff support to further their STEM goals. Chicago and its partners will leverage the funding and consulting resources to expand STEM mentoring opportunities to under-represented youth.

“US 2020’s grant will help support our efforts to provide access to a quality STEM education that will prepare our children to excel in the classroom and in life,” CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said. “Chicago is a national leader in how we are creating STEM educational pathways for our students starting in elementary school that will provide them a rigorous education that aligns with the jobs of the future.”

As part of their grant proposal, the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools and “Chicago Coalition” partners from the nonprofit and private sector, including After School Matters, Citizen Schools, Lumity, DePaul University, Northwestern University, the YWCA, the Illinois STEM Learning Exchange, and numerous youth-serving STEM nonprofits and institutions. In addition, several large technology corporations are represented on the coalition, including IBM, Baxter, CDW, Microsoft, and others will work to bring together and track all STEM mentoring opportunities for Chicago students. They will also develop a strategy to connect coalition member organizations with CPS neighborhood schools, STEM elementary and high schools, and other schools where students would benefit from additional high-impact STEM mentoring experiences.

The Coalition will also evaluate which types of STEM mentorship experiences have the greatest impact on students choosing to explore a STEM career and how to increase the number of women and minorities that pursue STEM majors in college and STEM careers.

Earlier this year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a city-wide strategy to increase Chicago students’ access to high-quality STEM learning experiences from early childhood through college and career. The city-wide strategy strategically brings together and directs educational, corporate, and philanthropic resources toward the shared goal of increasing STEM opportunities for Chicago students. With the support of multiple sectors, the strategy seeks to triple the number of Chicago students earning STEM credentials by 2018.

Over 150 local experts helped develop the strategy and will continue to be engaged throughout its implementation. Organizations participating in the development of the plan include over fifteen local colleges and universities, over twenty non-profit youth-serving organizations, museums and cultural institutions and several foundations and workforce development partners.

This City-wide strategy builds upon and provides additional support for existing City, CPS, and CCC programs including:

• Five Early College STEM schools that have been paired with a corporate partner that provides mentors, internships, and feedback on the curriculum to teach skills that would be valuable at their company.

• The most comprehensive K-12 computer science education plan in a major school district, which includes creating a pipeline for foundational computer science skills in elementary schools, offering at least one computer science class at every high school, and elevating computer science to a core subject.

• City of Learning, a connected learning initiative that builds on Chicago Summer of Learning to incorporate hundreds of partner sites and organizations throughout the city to make Chicago a place of year-round learning in and out of the classroom. Students earn digital badges from participating organizations to track their new skills, knowledge, and experiences across diverse STEAM learning opportunities.

• The City Colleges of Chicago’s College to Careers program, which provides industry-endorsed courses in high-growth industries to prepare students with relevant information to help them get and thrive in a competitive job.

About US2020:
US2020 is a new organization formed through a partnership of leading education non-profits and corporate leaders in the STEM field. The long-term goal of the initiative is to mobilize 1 million STEM mentors annually by the year 2020, creating millions of moments of discovery – those life changing events when children launch rockets, build robots, write a computer program, or look into the farthest reaches of the universe. US2020 relies on a committed and growing community of public, private, non-profit and individual partners.

US2020 emerged from a White House call to generate big, innovative solutions to our STEM education challenge. The city competition was designed to tap into the convening power of city leadership as well as the potential for national service to play a leading role in helping the nation address its STEM education needs.

Cisco is a founding partner of US2020 and the official sponsor of the US2020 City Competition. Cisco continues to build upon its two-decade long commitment to STEM education, supporting major programs to develop a robust pipeline of students interested in entering STEM fields. As part of its commitment to US2020, Cisco has pledged that 20% of its U.S. workforce will volunteer 20 hours or more in STEM mentoring by 2020.

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