siu engineering building

December 15, 2020

SIU to provide educational opportunities for St. Louis girls’ organization

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — An agreement between Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Girls Incorporated of St. Louis will provide mentoring and educational opportunities, summer camps and potential scholarships for junior high and high school students and encourage them to pursue STEM careers.

Nationwide, women made up 29% of those employed in science and engineering occupations in 2017. The memorandum of agreement (MOA) between SIU and Girls Inc. fits into the university’s unique tradition of access and opportunity and its commitment to inclusive excellence, said Chancellor Austin Lane.

“We are excited about our partnership with Girls Inc.,” Lane said. “We want to provide opportunities for women in STEM and other areas in leadership and bridge any gaps for young women who want to attain a first-rate university education where they will receive hands-on learning and personal attention.”

In the St. Louis area, Girls Inc. provides educational, cultural and recreational opportunities for more than 8,000 members age 5 to 18. Cheryl Jones, the St. Louis organization’s president and CEO, said Lane’s vision made the MOA a possibility.

“Chancellor Lane takes a personal interest in the students’ success and creates a community that is supportive and that of ‘belonging,’” she said. “It is very much the approach that we have here at Girls Inc., of inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold.”

Lane discussed the pact during the SIU Board of Trustees meeting last week. A signing ceremony for the agreement is planned at a later time.

The agreement includes:

  • SIU will provide virtual or in-person educational and mentoring opportunities for Girls Inc. junior high and high school members in any academic areas of interest with a special emphasis on STEM-related programs.
  • Girls Inc. members will have opportunities to attend summer camps, including STEM-related and aviation camps.
  • High school sophomores to seniors can participate in on-campus “Experience SIU Day” opportunities.
  • SIU will work to establish scholarship opportunities for student members who meet established criteria. Out-of-state students pay the tuition rates as Illinois residents.
  • High school seniors in the program will receive a personal visit from the SIU chancellor during the fall of their senior year.

John Frost, director of SIU Carbondale’s undergraduate admissions, is excited for what the partnership can bring. The collaboration will start with some virtual opportunities and later on-campus visits to both SIU and Girls Inc., he said.

“The partnership will help us spread the good news about SIU to a talented demographic who could benefit from the great opportunities it has to offer,” Frost said. “As we start to branch out to different areas, this is a great SIU start.”