Aurora City Council recently approved spending $75,000 to augment an educational program for at-risk children in the city.
The money will allow 400 other underserved young people in the city to join 1,600 students who have completed the program, which emphasizes science, technology, engineering, arts and math education This year.
The program involves students in kindergarten through eighth grade designing and building something that includes students learning to code a computer to operate the device.
The $75,000 will go to Elmhurst-based TinkRworks LLC to provide an additional 400 kits.
Officials said the 1,600 students was a target, but an estimate, and another 400 children could benefit from the program before the end of the year.
Harish Anathapadmanabahn, owner and creator of the downtown APS Training Academy, where about 70% of teaching takes place, said demand for the program was higher than expected.
The program served 69% Hispanic or Black students and 45% female students, with 95% of students living in households below the average median income.
The program is paid for by the city, although the instruction is paid for by the APS Training Academy.
The program began as a pilot project two years ago with students from the city’s 7th and 2nd Wards, along with city council members from those areas – Scheketa Hart-Burns, 7th Ward, and Juany Garza, 2nd Ward – participating in teaching and helping in class. .
The pilot project was considered such a success that it was rolled out across the city this year, and officials estimated it would find enough interest for 1,600 students. It turns out that many more were interested, officials said.
In addition to teaching at Downtown APS, there are program locations at Main Baptist Church and Church of the Sacred Heart on the east side, and Randall West on the west side of Aurora.
While the pilot focused on two neighborhoods, the program is open to students across the city, officials said.