A new partnership between Illinois Tech and SMASH Academy will put a STEM education within closer reach for high school students. A press conference was held today in downtown Chicago to kick off this initiative, with Lieutenant Governor of Illinois Juliana Stratton offering remarks.
SMASH, the signature science, technology, engineering, and math education program of the Kapor Center, has launched SMASH Illinois, its first statewide initiative program partnership with Illinois Tech, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and the Creating Pathways and Access for Student Success Foundation—also referred to as the SMASH Illinois consortium.
Through university partnerships, SMASH Academy provides a free, three-year, residential college preparatory program, targeting high school students from underrepresented communities interested in pursuing STEM careers. In partnership with Illinois Tech, students will have the opportunity to live and study on the university’s Chicago campus for five weeks during the summer to build the academic and life skills needed to be successful in the field. Participants will gain access to computer science courses, connect with STEM professionals of color, and build a community of support and like-minded peers.
“SMASH will create short-term and long-term success by allowing students to visit institutions of higher education, to attend engaging workshops, and to be partnered with a mentor to guide them along the way,” Stratton told the audience. “And in 10 years, or 20 years, or 30 years from now, these young people will be the leaders of the world’s biggest tech companies and other related firms, which will not only change their own lives, but it will changes the lives of their families and their entire communities.”
Peter Kilpatrick, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Illinois Tech, says, “Our community of students, staff, and scholars here at Illinois Tech is very excited to be joining SMASH Illinois. This visionary program has demonstrated that it is possible to develop effective programs to motivate and ready high school students from all backgrounds to excel in STEM in college.” Kilpatrick adds, “At Illinois Tech we are committed to ensuring access and success for all students in all of our academic programs.”
The SMASH Illinois consortium seeks to provide education, resources, and access for students to become the future innovators and leaders that will uplift their communities. Overall, the SMASH program has demonstrated a significant impact, with 100 percent of SMASH scholars graduating high school and 91 percent graduating college within five years of high school graduation, according to the 2017 SMASH Impact Report. In addition, the number of SMASH alumni who graduate with a STEM degree is two times higher than the national average.
SMASH Illinois will run this summer from July 6 to August 10.