For Immediate Release
Thursday, December 9, 2021

ISBE awards $1.1 million in grants to recruit more girls and low-income students into STEAM

​Funded by a special scratch-off lottery ticket, grant will support hands-on STEAM programming at eight under-resourced school districts 

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has awarded eight Illinois school districts a total of $1.1 million to increase access to science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) programming for girls and low-income students. ISBE made the announcement during Computer Science Education Week, as part of its efforts to widen the pipeline into high-paying, in-demand STEAM careers.   

Funded by a special scratch-off ticket from the Illinois Lottery, the grants support the integration of hands-on STEAM programming into the school curriculum and professional learning for educators to strengthen their STEAM teaching practices. The grants also support career-connected experiences that build students’ knowledge of the skills required to excel in STEAM careers. Public Act 101-0561​ created the program.  
“There are more STEAM job openings than there are skilled candidates to fill them.  Expanding the STEAM pipeline not only benefits underrepresented students and communities but also the businesses looking to hire more talent and the economy as a whole,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “For all students, regardless of what career they want to pursue, STEAM learning environments foster creativity, build problem-solving skills, and immerse our students in new settings that expand their social-emotional and reasoning growth.”  
"The $1.1 million in funding from the STEAM Grant Program will help prepare today's students to be tomorrow's innovators," said Assistant House Majority Leader Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago). "We need that innovation not just to fill all the currently available STEAM-related jobs, but also the thousands of jobs to come thanks to the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act and the electric vehicle incentive package passed into law earlier this year." 
“Our Illinois students deserve every advantage in the classroom,” said Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County and former State Senator Iris Y. Martinez, who sponsored the legislation that created the STEAM grant. “S.T.E.A.M. programming in our classrooms and learning environments will prepare our young people for jobs of the future and give them a foot in the door of tomorrow’s economy.”
"By ensuring greater access to science and technology in schools across Illinois through this new program, we're ensuring success for years to come,” said Senate Majority Caucus Chair Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago). “This funding is crucial for the integration of hands-on STEAM programming, especially for young girls and low-income students. STEAM is the future and we must invest in these resources accordingly.”
National research shows that students who attend the highest-poverty schools are least likely to have access to STEAM resources, experiences, and classes. ISBE’s STEAM grant helps to close that gap by targeting resources to underfunded school districts. Seven of the districts awarded funds are Tier 1 and one is Tier 2. ISBE awarded the eight districts a total of $1,106,054.48.  
Berwyn North School District 98 (Tier 1) – $153,982.99   
Berwyn North School District 98 plans to expand existing STEAM programming, open two new STEAM labs, host STEAM summer camps, and provide professional development for staff through the Northern Illinois University STEAM Center.  
Carlinville CUSD 1 (Tier 1) – $50,321.81   
Carlinville CUSD 1 plans to add STEAM programming into its existing special class rotation, design and implement after-school STEAM sessions, purchase necessary STEAM supplies, and provide professional development for staff.  
Chicago Public Schools District 299 (Tier 1) – $244,653.89   
Chicago Public Schools District 299 plans to expand its Early College STEAM School, recruit more girls into STEAM programs via lunch-and-learn events and career panels, and host a Women’s History Month STEAM Conference. 
CUSD 300 in Algonquin (Parkview and Perry Elementary Schools) (Tier 1) – $24,561.60 per school 
CUSD 300 plans for a plethora of hands-on courses to explore everything from architecture and engineering to healthy cooking, and a percussion group for girls called Girls on the Drum. 
East St. Louis School District 189 (Tier 2) – $175,000.00   
East St. Louis School District 189 plans to purchase the School Beats STEAM curriculum through which students will learn how to produce, compose, record, and market their own music; develop STEAM-focused clubs; hire two STEAM facilitators; and inspire more girls to pursue STEAM careers by inviting industry professionals to mentor female students and introduce them to STEAM-related fields. 
Elmwood Park CUSD 401 (Tier 1) – $153,627.90   
Elmwood Park CUSD 401 plans to offer after-school STEAM programming for students at John Mills Elementary​, including hands-on opportunities with 3D printing, graphic design, laser woodworking, video vlogging, and podcasting. Sixty girls will have the opportunity to attend a STEAM summer camp called GADgET (Girls Adventuring in Design, Engineering, and Technology).  
Paris Union School District 95 (Tier 1) – $187,900.45   
Paris Union School District 95 plans to expand access to STEAM programming by hosting special summer camps and offering after-school opportunities, bringing in women STEAM mentors to discuss career options with students, and creating partnerships with local businesses and community organizations. 
Rantoul City School District 137 (Tier 1) – $91,444.24   
Rantoul City School District 137 plans to purchase virtual reality goggles, digital cameras, and photo editing software; new culturally diverse STEAM-centered books for the classroom and the district’s “hallway libraries”; and professional development for STEAM teachers. The district will also host a Sisters in Science after-school club.