Anonymous donor gives $3.5 million to boost STEM education at SIUE Charter High School
A steadfast humanitarian, a staunch supporter of education and a longtime children’s advocate has bestowed $3.5 million upon the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Charter High School to enhance its STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Center and STEM-related learning.
“The donor wanted to provide resources to children in East St. Louis to give them access to technology that will strengthen their STEM skills,” said Venessa A. Brown, PhD, associate chancellor for diversity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer. The donor and his representatives contacted Brown to facilitate the donor’s wish to give back to his hometown, by supporting CHS students.
“The donor is a person who has a heart for the betterment of all people, especially children,” said Brown. “He cares about the youth and wants our Charter High School students to have opportunities. He’s an angel for children in East St. Louis.”
“Schools are often challenged by having great ideas that can’t be implemented due to a lack of funding,” said Paul Rose, PhD, interim dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior. “In this case, however, great ideas will be implemented thanks to a donor’s generosity. Charter High School students will benefit from this gift for many years.”
“This gift is a miracle, and I’m so appreciative that the donor chose CHS as the benefactor. We are also excited about what this $3.5 million gift is going to do to change the lives of our students,” said Gina Jeffries, CHS director.
CHS opened its STEM Center in fall 2011. Monies for the center also were donated.
“Our intention is to make sure every student at Charter High School has access to technology and expose all of our 120 students to STEM education,” said Willis Young, CHS assistant director.
Some initiatives that CHS plans to fund:
• Enhancements for engineering lab
• Laptops and iPads for use by all students
• Space for robotics
• Technology fairs and competition
• Endowed STEM scholarships
“It is CHS’ mission to see our students’ college- and career-ready after they graduate,” said Johnathan Tate, CHS STEM faculty member. “We take every opportunity to plant within them seeds of courage to dream and dream big. We are not only grateful for this gift, but are also ecstatic for the opportunities it unfolds.”
“Big opportunities are in store for my future!” said sophomore Jalynn Bejoile, co-captain of the CHS robotic team. “I could start working now to enhance my future in STEM and be better prepared for my STEM career.”
“People like the donor, who have a passion for seeing young people be successful, look and see where their money can be best spent, and where they can see the best reward,” explained Young.
The SIUE Charter High School is a school-of-choice for families in the East St. Louis School District 189. The mission of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Charter High School is to produce students who are career- and college-ready upon graduation.
PHOTO: Darweshi Amerson, CHS sophomore and co-captain of the robotic team, center, works in the SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School STEM lab. Watching are, from left, CHS STEM faculty member Johnathan Tate, CHS Assistant Director Willis Young and CHS Director Gina Jeffries.