Cook County funds allow for expansion of Girls STEAM Ahead

The Cook County Bureau of Economic Development awarded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to support an expansion of the Homewood Science Center’s Girls STEAM Ahead Success program.
The workforce development program will now reach freshmen girls from low-income families who attend Rich Township High School District 227. 
Sixth District Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller stated: “This grant funding addresses gender, racial and economic inequities in STEAM education and careers, and is in alignment with Cook County’s foundational belief in the value of equity.”
Miller said Girls STEAM Ahead Success directly combats two major problems outlined in the Cook County Policy Roadmap: the county’s high racial and economic segregation and the suburbanization of poverty.  
Holly Keslven, the Homewood Science Center program manager, said the program “seeks to address the underrepresentation of women, particularly minority women, in science and tech careers by providing local female students the skills and encouragement to pursue science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).”
Through Girls STEAM Ahead, Homewood Science Center aims to develop a pipeline of talented students from the South Suburbs who are traditionally an underrepresented population and equip them with skills that can be deployed effectively in next-economy jobs.
“These are the skills needed to succeed in a developing economy,” said Edie Dobrez, HSC executive director. “There is a global effort to diversify our workforce. We believe the South Suburbs can take the lead in that.
“We wouldn’t be able to make an impact on these girls’ lives and get them started on their journey if the county didn’t feel this program was worth funding,” Dobrez said. “We’re glad Cook County believes in us and believes that these girls deserve this opportunity.”
“I strongly believe diversity is a key element to making Cook County better,” Miller said. “Students served by Girls STEAM Ahead Success are untapped resources for the economic growth of metro Chicago particularly in the South Suburbs.”
Miller, who serves as co-chair of the Workforce, Housing & Community Development Committee, added, “I was proud to advocate for the STEM Ahead Success program, and I am pleased that they will receive this needed funding, which will help Cook County develop viable communities and expand economic opportunities for all residents.” 


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