Aurora U STEM Model School Gets Financial Boost
- By Mike Hohenbrink
The STEM Partnership School has received $1 million in funding to support its goal of promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The school, located at Aurora University, will eventually cater to elementary and middle school students and serve as an immersive training ground for Aurora U undergraduate and graduate students.
The model school project, based in Aurora, IL, has received a $500,000 commitment from the non-profit Exelon Foundation, which supports community and education efforts in northern Illinois, and $150,000 in matching funds from the Dunham Fund, a previous contributor to the effort.
Located at AU, a private college serving 4,000 students, the STEM Partnership School will eventually serve students in grades 3 through 8 drawn from area districts including Aurora East, Aurora West, Indian Prairie, and Oswego. AU and the four districts will jointly run the school.
When operational, the model school is expected to serve "approximately 200 students," according to Aurora University.
Students chosen to take part in the model school will have shown demonstrated ability and proficiency in mathematics and science.
Each of the partnering districts as well as AU will contribute faculty who will not only train students in STEM coursework but who will also grow professionally as STEM educators. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, educators involved with the model school project will complete coursework at the graduate level through the university.
With university students, the campus is intended to serve as a clinical immersion experience that will draw from both the undergraduate and graduate student populations.
The model school serves as the cornerstone of Aurora University's Mathematics and Science Education Center founded by the university's Institute for Collaboration in order to promote STEM education, both in the local area and beyond.
The most recent grants are intended to go toward the school's construction.
The Dunham Fund, a foundation that supports community development as well as education, has previously given support to the model school effort with $100,000 awarded through the foundation's Challenge for Change competition, as well as a grant for $250,000.
The effort is currently seeking additional support from companies with a vested interest in the promotion of STEM education.
"We must challenge and encourage talented students who show interest in math, science and engineering, because these will be critical skills for the leaders of tomorrow," said Frank M. Clark, Exelon Foundation board member and chairman and CEO of Exelon subsidiary ComEd. "As part of our support for innovative approaches to math and science education, the Exelon Foundation is pleased to help bring the STEM Partnership School yet another step closer to opening its doors."
"The Dunham Fund has been a champion of the partnership school from its inception because of its promise to transform STEM education," said Michael Morcos, vice chairman of the Dunham Fund Board of Advisors. "We're excited to see other organizations join us in investing in this groundbreaking concept."
More information about the STEM Partnership School can be found at aurora.edu/stem.