For over a decade, the Chicago Inventors Organization (CIO) has been dedicated to providing economically challenged Chicagoan inventors with the resources needed to bring their projects to life, and to market. Founded by an inventor who had been in need of similar services at the start of his business, CIO has always placed an emphasis on the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs and education in schools – something often costly and out of reach of the students in underprivileged areas aspiring to careers in the field – and entrepreneurship, which allows for greater levels of success on both the individual and community level.
In 2016, CIO began the enhancement of its Young Inventors and Entrepreneurs Program (YiEP). This focused on the development of a 26-week extracurricular learning program that would seek to expose young Chicagoan students in select schools, grades 6 through 10, to concepts in STEM subjects, that would generate and nurture an interest in the field. The program consists of two modules, the Youth Investment Project (YIP) and Youth Entrepreneur Project (YEP), that last 11 and 15 weeks respectively. For students in underserved middle and high schools, there is specific teaching on innovation and entrepreneurship, involving ideas in finance, business structure and development, marketing and manufacturing, and intellectual property – all imperative to the process of growing their own businesses as they look towards college and the future.
While the program has gained great publicity and traction, at present it is still woefully underfunded. For many schools in Chicago, this is the only project currently working towards actively improving STEM education for their students, and without its success, there is no alternative. Concepts in science and engineering can only be studied so far in theory, and a practical element is imperative to the experience. The CIO has therefore began fundraising efforts in order to purchase drone, solar, ATM, and robotics kits, and plan field trips for the students in the program, to give them more hands on, and therefore, more effective instruction.
If you are interested in becoming a YiEP sponsor, or would like to show your support, please visit chicago-inventors.org, or search for ‘YIEP’ on chuffed.org for more information on the campaign. You can also call 773-729-0364, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to a representative.