D65, Northwestern officials explain plans for STEM partnership


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Alan Anderson, Northwestern’s executive director for neighborhood and community relations, speaks at a District 65 meeting on Monday. Anderson explained the partnership the University is starting with District 65 schools.

Representatives from Northwestern and Evanston/Skokie School District 65 elaborated on plans for a new partnership office at a school board meeting Monday.

The partnership office, which was announced by the district in a news release at the beginning of the month, will focus on strengthening science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs in local schools. It is based on a similar office launched at Evanston Township High School in 2012, which also focuses on improving STEM initiatives as well as those in the arts, according to the release.

“From day one, our partners and neighbors at Northwestern University have been nothing but fantastic,” District 65 superintendent Paul Goren said.

Alan Anderson (McCormick ’99, Kellogg ’04), Northwestern’s executive director for neighborhood and community relations, and executive vice president Nim Chinniah outlined the University partnership commitment at Monday’s meeting. The commitment is based on three pillars of community relations: education, child and youth development; economic and community development; and health and public safety, Chinniah said.

To ensure education, child and youth development, Anderson said Northwestern will focus on strengthening educational practice in STEM; collaborative research and data infrastructure; community engagement and a commitment to equity and inclusion.

“There are groups that have come together to really focus on STEM education in this community,” Anderson said. “The learning that happens across this ecosystem is really important to District 65 … creating more opportunities for kids to learn and access high quality education.”

In addition to the educational opportunities, Chinniah addressed the University’s continued commitment to a joint trade skills program, which provides jobs for young adults in the Evanston community and helps fill open positions at NU. The graduates of the program’s second class are preparing to complete their training at the end of May.

Northwestern is also looking to form a community emergency response team program between the Evanston Police and Fire Departments and University Police, Chinniah said. The departments will be jointly trained in providing emergency services in the event of a disaster.
“We understand that (this partnership) is not a destination; it’s a journey,” Chinniah said. “The commitment that the University has made is that will be intentional about this journey. We will be constant, consistent, present and transparent.”

The partnership office will be located in the Joseph E. Hill Education Center, 1500 McDaniel Ave., but will work directly with teachers and students throughout the district, according to the news release. There are plans to appoint one partnership coordinator to work in the office who will serve as the “single point of contact” between NU and district administrators.

District 65 board president Suni Kartha (Weinberg ’97) expressed her excitement for the partnership at Monday’s meeting.

“This is going to be an incredible partnership,” Kartha said. “(Over the years), I have seen the changes (put forward) from the city and the university and appreciated them deeply.”

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