AURORA, Ill. - The Exelon Foundation became the first major corporate foundation to support the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Partnership School at Aurora University today with a $500,000 gift to support the creation of a new national model for mathematics and science education.
A $150,000 matching award from the Aurora-based Dunham Fund, which also provided seed money for the school, brings total financial support for the project to $1 million. The dual gifts build momentum for the school as AU seeks funding for its construction, largely from corporations and foundations with a vested interest in the STEM fields.
The contribution from the Exelon Foundation - a nonprofit organization funded by Chicago-based Exelon Corporation - is the largest single contribution to date to the STEM Partnership School. The foundation is supporting the school because of its potential to transform how science, technology, engineering and mathematics are taught and learned in the United States. The school on the Aurora University campus will prepare young students for 21st century jobs and train teachers to develop best practices that can be shared with other educators.
"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 STEM Partnership School is the cornerstone of the Mathematics and Science Education Center of Aurora University, which was launched by the AU Institute for Collaboration to improve STEM education in the community and across the country. The project received legislative support in July when Gov. Pat Quinn visited campus to sign Senate Bill 621, which authorizes AU and the four Aurora school districts to jointly operate the school.
When built, the STEM Partnership School will initially serve approximately 200 third- through eighth-grade students in the Aurora East, Aurora West, Indian Prairie and Oswego school districts who have demonstrated proficiency in mathematics and science. It will be staffed by district teachers who will simultaneously complete AU graduate coursework in STEM fields and eventually return to their home schools as leaders in mathematics and science education.
"The Exelon Foundation grant is a major endorsement of our community-based STEM partnership and its potential to engage a new generation of learners in mathematics and science learning," said Rebecca L. Sherrick, President of Aurora University.
The Dunham Fund, which primarily gives grants for projects or programs focused on education and community development, previously supported the school with $100,000 in seed money through its Challenge for Change competition and a $250,000 grant. The new matching award brings the private foundation's total investment to $500,000.
"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."
Aurora University is an inclusive community dedicated to the transformative power of learning with approximately 4,000 degree-seeking students enrolled on its Aurora campus at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. The university has a long tradition of preparing students for lives of service and leadership, and using its resources and expertise to meet the needs of the community and create groundbreaking education models that can be replicated across the country.
For more information on the STEM Partnership School, visit aurora.edu/stem.