Illinois Schools Collaborate to Launch STEM Tech Camp for Teens From Underrepresented Groups

Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the Illinois Institute of Technology have partnered with the Kapor Center to launch the Illinois SMASH Academy, a 5-week, all-expenses paid STEM summer camp for high school students from underrepresented groups in Chicago and Southern Illinois. The Kapor Center, based in Oakland, is dedicated to leveling the playing field in tech, making the field more diverse, inclusive and better equipped to address society’s challenges and opportunities.

The Kapor Center has already established SMASH academies in California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. According to the center’s data, every SMASH student graduates high school and 91 percent earn a college degree within five years, 31 percentage points higher than the national rate.

The new program will accept 35 ninth graders from Chicago and 35 from Southern Illinois for the first year of the academy, which will be held at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Participating students will attend the summer camp for three years, until they graduate from high school. They will study a variety of disciplines including math, biology, chemistry, and engineering. They will also receive SAT and ACT test prep in order to prepare them for college.

“These are future leaders,” said Meera Komarraju, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. “Even one kid, if they are able to pursue their dreams, for their family and the part of society they live in, this can have a big ripple effect.”

Anyone interested in the program can find more information here.

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