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Lipinski Announces $2 Million Grant for Collaborative Project to Improve STEM Education in Chicago Area

Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) has announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded three grants totaling about $2 million to a research consortium consisting of The Learning Partnership – based in Western Springs, Northwestern University, James Madison University, and Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  The funds will be used to adapt a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based program developed for high school students at James Madison University in Virginia for CPS high school students.

The program focuses on the development of spatial thinking skills which – according to the researchers – are strongly predictive of achievement, persistence, and attainment in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.  The program will integrate GIS software and geospatial problem solving into existing Career & Technical Education classes in entrepreneurship, pre-engineering, law and public safety, construction and architecture, health science, and agricultural sciences.  Students in these classes will earn dual enrollment credit from their high school and from the City Colleges of Chicago.  In addition to being a useful skill across the STEM fields, proficiency in GIS software can be a great path to a well-paying job without having to complete a college degree.

“Thanks again to The Learning Partnership and Northwestern for the amazing work they do in the district and across the region,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “This grant will provide a much-needed boost to hard-working students looking for a high-quality education that will prepare them well for their career path.”  

“What’s really exciting about this project is that we’ll be able to take a program that’s been very successful in Virginia and develop strategies for bringing it to Chicago,” said Dr. Steven McGee, founder of The Learning Partnership.  “Teachers will be able to support Chicago students in developing GIS skills, which is one of the fastest growing career areas.  What we learn from this project can be applied across a variety of urban settings to help students earn college credit and develop skills that will be immediately applicable.”

Last year, the Congressman announced that The Learning Partnership, as part of a local educational partnership, had received a separate grant of over $1 million for the purpose of ensuring that all CPS students have access to inclusive, high-quality, introductory computer science education in high school.