Over the course of 2016, Science in Society has been extending and developing several community-focused partnerships in Evanston. As always, our work is firmly grounded in supporting underserved communities with high-quality, impactful STEM opportunities, and these new initiatives are no exception.
While Evanston is often considered among the real-life counterparts to the leafy, homogenous, and affluent suburbs in John Hughes movies, the reality is much more complex. More than one in three households earns less than $50,000 a year. At Dawes Elementary School, for example, 56% of students are on public assistance and/or qualify for free and reduced school meals and an estimated 2% are homeless.
Science in Society began piloting its Science Club model with the youth development agency Y.O.U. in 2015. A Junior Science Club program now runs at two elementary sites--Oakton and Dawes Elementary Schools. And in fall 2016, we expanded our Evanston community partnerships to include a sister program at Family Focus.
Family Focus is a community education non-profit with several centers in the city, including Evanston’s 5th Ward – a historically underserved neighborhood in west Evanston.
Our partnerships with Y.O.U and Family Focus were developed over many months. We built these tailored science education programs to serve the needs of our local community and integrate with existing youth programs at both centers. Beginning in early 2017, we’ll continue this work with partners at the McGaw YMCA and MetaMedia developing an additional Science Club site, thanks to a generous gift from the Lewis Sebring Foundation.
Alongside these afterschool programs, we’re also working with formal education partners in the Evanston/Skokie School District 65. As key members of the EvanSTEM ecosystem, we’re working with educators, city officials, informal learning specialists and a range of invested community members to strengthen and unite the STEM offerings in the district for students of all ages and from all backgrounds.
As part of this work, this academic year we’ve welcomed our newest staff member, Jen Lewin, whose office is housed in Evanston’s K-8 school district to serve and support STEM teaching and learning across the community. (Read more about Jen’s new position in Evanston Now.)