AURORA, Ill. – The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Partnership School at Aurora University moved closer to construction Thursday, June 21, with the announcement of major financial support from the Dunham Fund and Tellabs Foundation totaling more than $2.5 million.
The Aurora-based Dunham Fund, an early champion of the school focused on improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in the community, awarded the project a $2.35 million capital grant. Tellabs Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Naperville-based network equipment provider Tellabs, joins a growing list of project partners with a $200,000 award that will enable the STEM Partnership School to become a global technology center.
Pending approval by the university’s Board of Trustees, the new school will be named in honor of John C. Dunham, founder of the Dunham Fund. By naming the school in Dunham’s memory, the institution will celebrate the role of the fund in prompting development of the STEM proposal and serving as the project’s inaugural donor.
“The academy we envision will help establish Aurora, Ill., as a pre-eminent center for mathematics and science learning,” said Rebecca L. Sherrick, President of Aurora University. “We will serve the needs of students and teachers in the surrounding area as we develop exciting new strategies for empowering learners of all ages in these crucial disciplines. Through this effort, we will create innovative new models for communities across the country to emulate.”
The STEM Partnership School will be the culmination of a three-year planning process spearheaded and coordinated by the Institute for Collaboration of Aurora University. The Dunham Fund provided initial support for the concept through a $100,000 Challenge for Change grant in 2009 and has followed through on its commitment to the project with an additional $250,000 grant and $150,000 challenge grant that was more than matched by the Exelon Foundation’s $500,000 award.
The $2.35 million capital grant announced June 21 means the Dunham Fund will support the project from conception to completion.
Stewart Beach, Dunham Fund chairman, applauded “the obvious and measureable educational benefits that the partnership school will bring to the Dunham Fund service area.”
“We can tell a great story of the success of this program locally, statewide and nationally,” Beach said. “This would be a program that John Dunham would have endorsed without reservation during his lifetime. The Dunham Fund is pleased to again support this outstanding educational program in his name with this significant grant.”
The $200,000 donation from Tellabs Foundation will turn the STEM Partnership School into a global technology center that includes wireless infrastructure and an educational web portal. With its gift, Tellabs Foundation joins Cabot Microelectronics, Caterpillar Foundation, Dunham Fund, Exelon Foundation, Google, VVF and Waste Management as partners in creating a new national model for STEM education.
“Creating education opportunities for tomorrow’s engineers is a key part of the Tellabs Foundation mission,” said Michael J. Birck, Tellabs Chairman and Tellabs Foundation president. “We’re pleased to support Aurora University’s Partnership School, an innovative new model for STEM education.”
The STEM Partnership School on the Aurora University campus will initially serve approximately 200 students in the Aurora East, Aurora West, Indian Prairie and Oswego school districts and employ district teachers who will simultaneously complete AU graduate coursework in STEM education. The school will excite students’ interest in 21st century careers and train teachers to develop best practices that will add value to the curriculum of all four partner school districts.For more information, visit aurora.edu/stem.