Gov. Pritzker Celebrates $200K Commitment from CREATE Program Partners towards STEM in Chicago

Gov. Pritzker Celebrates $200K Commitment from CREATE Program Partners towards STEM in Chicago

8 Southside educational institutions will receive $25K

CHICAGO -- Governor JB Pritzker joined leaders from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program at Englewood STEM High School to announce the fifth year of CREATE grant funding. As part of the 75th street Corridor Improvement Project (CIP), the CREATE Program and its partners have donated over $600,000 since 2019 as part of their educational commitment to communities within the 75th street CIP corridor. This year’s grants will be dispersed among nine awardees including Chicago Public Schools, Leo High School, The Museum of Science and Industry, and the Chicago Public Library Foundation.

“The impact of CREATE goes beyond any economic indicators. It lies in the way it has connected and invested in our people – from workforce development to community improvement projects and of course, STEM education,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Thanks to this funding, students here in Englewood and across the 75th Street Corridor are gaining exposure to new career paths and learning the skills needed to thrive in the economy of tomorrow. At their core, these programs foster curiosity and creativity, helping students turn their ingenuity into innovation and action.”

The announcement outlines awardees for the 2024-2025 school year, with grants totaling $200,000. $100,000 was direct funding from CREATE Program, with an additional $100,000 matched by Norfolk Southern Railroad.

Through partnership with Children First Fund (CFF): the Chicago Public Schools Foundation, the CREATE Program is providing CPS Schools and other educational institutions with creative programming, resources, and the establishment and improvement of STEM clubs (rocketry, cybersecurity, 3D printing, bridge building, and physics). The funding will also assist with makerspaces and internships available to Chicago Southside youth to encourage transportation and infrastructure education.

Grant funding will also positively impact the Chicago Public Library System’s ScienceConnections program, which fosters critical thinking skills and technology literacy among school-aged youth, and the annual STEAM-Powered Saturday event, which highlights year-round STEM programming across various library branches.

The CREATE Program also supports the ongoing success of programming at the Museum of Science and Industry, including their MSI Curiosity Kits and Summer Brain Games Kits, which encourage youth to engage with STEM concepts in their respective neighborhoods.

The 2024-2025 CREATE Program grant recipients are:

Lillian R. Nicholson STEM Academy (CPS)

Scott Joplin Elementary School (CPS)

Asa Philip Randolph Elementary School (CPS)

Martha Ruggles Elementary School (CPS)

Englewood STEM High School (CPS)

Simeon Career Academy (CPS)

Leo High School

Chicago Public Library

Museum of Science and Industry

“Today’s investment is creating the scientists, planners and engineers that will be designing and building tomorrow’s infrastructure, maybe even as the next generation of leaders at IDOT,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Pritzker, CREATE continues to help modernize our system of multimodal transportation in Illinois, while creating opportunities to participate in projects and opening doors to new possibilities.”

“CPS acknowledges the CREATE program's visionary approach and invaluable support in demonstrating the relevance of STEM and STEAM education in our daily lives and community initiatives,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. " By bridging classroom learning with real-world applications, we ignite our students' innate curiosity, fostering a deeper engagement with STEM subjects and empowering them to contribute meaningfully to the enhancement of our communities.”

“Through our ongoing collaboration with the CREATE Program, we're unleashing a wave of possibilities for CPS students,” stated Christopher Shelton, Principal of Englewood STEM High School. “With access to these incredible resources, we're igniting a spark of curiosity that will drive them to new heights in the sciences. We're not just determined; we're thrilled to see our students carry this passion through their entire educational journey and beyond, into their professional careers!”

“We are excited to highlight the transformative impact of CREATE's investments in STEM technology, not just within the walls of our classrooms, but throughout the broader Auburn Gresham community.,” said Principal Shaka Rawls of Leo High School, another CREATE Education Commitment Grant Recipient. “By upgrading our infrastructure, we're opening doors to endless possibilities, from robotics to advanced sciences.”

“The Chicago Public Library Foundation celebrates the immense impact of the CREATE Program and Norfolk Southern Foundation's generosity,” said Brenda Langstraat, President & CEO of the Chicago Public Library Foundation. “CREATE’s support has ignited a passion for informal STEM education among countless Chicago children and families, breathing life into cherished programs like the Summer Learning Challenge and ScienceConnections. Together, we're fostering a love for learning that transcends the classroom, shaping brighter futures for our communities.”

“By bringing science activities directly to students during the summer, we're nurturing a crucial interest in science outside the classroom. It's vital to keep children engaged, excited, and motivated about science even when school's out,” said Octavia Hooks, Director of Development of the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. “This curiosity not only fuels their learning but also instills the belief that science is accessible to everyone, fostering a lifelong passion for exploration and discovery.”

The CREATE Program is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership to improve the rail and roadway transportation network within the Chicago region through the completion of 70 interrelated infrastructure projects. The CREATE Program is a partnership that includes the U.S. Department of Transportation, State of Illinois, Cook County, City of Chicago, Metra, Amtrak, the Association of American Railroads along with freight railroads BNSF, Belt Railway of Chicago, Canadian Pacific Kansas City, Canadian National, CSX, Indiana Harbor Belt, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific. The Program is designed to eliminate freight rail and motor vehicle bottlenecks, boost the economy of northeastern Illinois and improve the overall safety and environment of the region.

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