2020 Best Commitment to Education Finalists

Chicago Fire Football Club

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Chicago Fire Football Club
© Chicago Fire Football Club

The Chicago Fire Football Club embraced the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of underserved youth through enriching sports-based programming across Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Through collaboration with academic and community partners, including the Chicago Fire Foundation, the Club’s charitable arm developed the P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth, Soccer) Program, a first-of-its-kind afterschool program. The 10-week curriculum seeks to improve academic outcomes and engage students in larger life lessons by integrating skills development with social and emotional learning. The program currently serves 1,000 boys and girls of which 98% are of color, 93% are from families classified as low-income and 95% qualify for free and/or reduced lunch and live at, or below the U.S. poverty level. P.L.A.Y.S. specifically engages youth within these demographics to positively impact those most at-risk for academic success. Nearly 92% of participants feel safe because of this program and 93% believe the program taught them to be a good student.

Discovery Education and Girl Scouts of the USA

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Discovery Education
© Discovery Education

According to research conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute, women and girls remain underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), but not for lack of interest. To sustain girls’ interest in STEM, Girls Get STEM: Unleash Your Inner Scientist from Girl Scouts of the USA and Discovery Education offers no-cost, dynamic digital resources for K-5 educators, troop leaders, and families. Guided by the power of STEM learning, the initiative works to create a more equitable future for young girls to become tomorrow’s leaders through standards-aligned, anywhere learning materials. Since 2018, over 1.5 million U.S. students are empowered to unleash their inner scientist by diving into the resources, including the Virtual Field Trip (VFT) that inspires students to take positive action through STEM in their classrooms and communities. 

Verizon 

The U.S. technology sector lacks female, Black, and Hispanic representation, and few science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) youth programs engage minority boys or rural girls. The Verizon Innovative Learning (VIL) summer programs for Young Men of Color and Rural Young Women help to strengthen the pathway between STEM subjects, higher education, and STEM careers by offering a free accelerated boot camp for underserved middle school students. Mentoring, the latest technology, and skills training are part of each curriculum, delivered in partnership with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship and more than a dozen Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions. In 2019, the Young Men of Color program reached 2,177 students and the Rural Young Women program served 1,449 students. Verizon’s education initiative, VIL, has provided more than $535M in market value toward STEM education, helping under-resourced communities bridge the digital divide.