Partnerships are valuable to Project Exploration!

Project Exploration (PE) builds high quality STEM education programs through effective and collaborative partnerships. As PE continues to think creatively about how to expand program opportunities to key Chicago communities that we know are STEM deserts, partnerships are key. We are pleased to relaunch Science Digest in partnership with Chicago Youth Centers.

Through the Hive Chicago, Project Exploration and Chicago Youth Centers worked to identify an opportunity to partner and build STEM access. The Chicago Youth Centers (CYC), educate and support children and families so they can succeed in the 21st century. They aim to equalize access to the tools, experiences, and resources needed for youth ages 3-18 to persist academically and develop socially and emotionally. Steven Willis our CYC partner is the STEM Program Manager and is key in helping us build the best experiences for their students. Steven’s role supports the CYC mission by building, developing and providing fun and inspiring STEM teaching and learning space and programs for their youth that supports the successful development of their participants. Chicago Youth Centers’ work with youth help spark and inspire youth to develop pathways to success by helping them identify skills and talents they have a passion for and by helping the develop their 21st Century skills: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity.

The Chicago Youth Centers is partnering with Project Exploration helps them advance their mission by helping to provide inspiration and empowerment to youth participant by having STEM professional come to our communities and communicate about various STEM Career pathways. Steven Willis shares, that in his experience he has seen how STEM programs done well really help students develop skills that allow them to be better prepared for success in school as well in their chosen career. The skills that STEM programs hone are most notably critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity, the 4C’s.

Science Digests 2.0 relaunched with Chicago Youth Centers

Science Digests originally emerged as a monthly program to engage PE students and alumni in exploring a wide range of STEM disciplines, while working alongside STEM professionals. With Project Exploration’s relationship-based model structured programs around intentional long-term relationships between students, staff, and scientists, Science Digests provided an opportunity for these relationships to grow. Maintaining the principle of working with students to expose them to various STEM topics, Science Digests 2.0 are also helping to build opportunities for families to join! Evidence has shown that parents and family engagement is vital in encouraging and supporting their children’s science learning at home and throughout their community.

The Chicago Youth Centers are located in Bridgeport, Bronzeville, North Lawndale and South Shore. Steven works at the Bronzeville location where they are experiencing a transitioning community as a result of gentrification. The Bronzeville community works to establish or reestablish partners and programs that bring value to the community. As a result, CYC has been intentional about transforming their teaching and learning spaces so that they can offer participants access centers to provide cutting edge machines, equipment and programs to reinforce how they value what CYC has to offer them within the Bronzeville neighborhood; their changing community.


Major highlights of the PE and CYC partnership to relaunching Science Digests; developing and implementing CYC Steven Willis’s first HIVE funded project and the wonderful and eye-opening experience of working on a project that involves every Out-of-school time (OST) site, community and staff of Chicago Youth Centers. Finally, Project Exploration is thrilled to find more ways to Change the Face of Science. It is both challenging and exciting for both organizations.

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