Friday, August 24, 2018 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews
Featured image: Steven hunter with young people during one of his life skills and basketball academy events. | statbasketball.net
A Maywood native, Proviso East graduate and former NBA center is giving back to his hometown through a significant philanthropic effort.
Steven Hunter recently teamed up with Woz U Education, a technology literacy organization inspired by Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, to implement a $5 million technology-based after school program in K-12 schools throughout the Chicago area.
And Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview School District 89 is the first school district where the program will launch.
Hunter, who is currently a community ambassador for the Phoenix Suns, will lead the effort through his Steven Hunter Youth Foundation, which will provide STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) kits to students participating in the K-8 after school program.
“The collaboration empowers students to acquire coding and software development skills,” according to a statement Woz U released on Aug. 22 to announce the effort.
“The STEAM kits deepen the classroom experience for students to think computationally as they are introduced to coding lessons at the elementary and middle school levels,” the statement reads.
The launch of the program will be formally unveiled during a fundraiser for the District 89 Education Foundation, an organization that launched earlier this year. The foundation will give financial support to students of color who are enrolled in college and are seeking a teaching degree.
The fundraiser will take place on Sept. 19, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Stevenson Middle School, 1630 N. 20th Ave. in Melrose Park.
“We are proud to provide District 89 students with the resources to learn and develop proficiency in coding as early in the learning process as possible,” Karen Young, the CEO of Woz U Education, said in the statement.
“The technology economy is growing rapidly and is ever-evolving,” Young explained. “The program will equip students with hands-on projects to gain the skills necessary to begin a technology career post-high school.”
Young said that the STEAM kits will start off by teaching students “basic coding concepts through hands-on activities,” before progressing to “more advanced block-based and text-based code. The evolution of coding lessons starting in kindergarten guide students to comprehend computer skills as a career path to the technology industry.”
In the statement, Hunter, who graduated from Garfield Elementary, said that he hopes the program helps spark the economy in his hometown.
“I’m committed to the community I grew up in and assisting the students with the resources to develop an engineering mindset via the STEAM program,” he said. “We will be able to ignite economic development in the Maywood area by providing a platform that will inspire the children and immerse them in the tech community at an early age.”
District 89 board President Dianne Williams said that she was thankful to Hunter for his support, adding that the kits “will enable our students to develop valuable technology proficiency through their experience in our school system. Educating our students in the tech category is crucial to guiding them on a successful career path without the burden of student loans.”