Resource 1, a leading IT consulting firm in the Chicagoland area, is proud to announce their partnership with the Oak Park Education Foundation (OPEF). The OPEF is a privately funded nonprofit organization that brings educational programs, including VEX Robotics, to students in the K-8 range. They provided a wide variety of STEM programming, while also assisting school districts across Illinois in replicating similar academic initiatives.
One of OPEF’s fastest growing programs is VEX Robotics, which gives students in middle school the opportunity to masterfully build, skillfully control, and creatively program robots. Resource 1’s funding, along with other grants, have allowed this flagship program to become a staple, bringing technical equipment to the hands of all children, regardless of economic standing. The VEX Robotics In-House League is free to all children. For those who find a continuing passion for robotics, they have the option of the VEX Robotics Competitive Club.
Programs like VEX Robotics are essential for growing STEM skills at an early age. A recent report from the ACT organization, which tests high school students for college and career readiness, shows that while 48 percent of students are interested in STEM careers, only 26 percent meet or exceed the benchmark for college readiness in STEM. Furthermore, reports from a variety of prestigious colleges and universities reveal that there are significantly fewer low-income students, many of whom are ethnic minorities, in STEM majors, a trend that continues into the workplace. It is the hope of both Resource 1 and OPEF that programs such as VEX Robotics can help to reduce this wide discrepancy, preparing all students with a deeper STEM knowledge.
“Resource 1 is proud to support OPEF’s VEX Robotics program”, comments Anastasia Valentine, Executive Vice President and Managing Director at Resource 1. “We know that our financial support and commitment will help develop great scientific minds for our future. Providing our youth a path to explore robotics technology at the middle school level is very rare. STEM and robotics will be a large part of the future when these children graduate from college.”
The students involved in the VEX Robotics program are excited to have access to this unique learning opportunity. Samantha Braun, who spent three years in the Robotics club in middle school and is now a high school mentor, said it’s important for both girls and boys in the club to see her and other females as leaders in this high-tech activity. “I loved feeling like I could build something from scratch that could move and compete on its own,” said the junior at Oak Park River Forest High School. “Once I succeeded, I knew it was something I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to major in engineering.”
When asked why he wants to be involved, 6th grader Dean C. says, “I want to be in the computer programming field as my future job, and I feel like this is a good way to learn coding.” 6th grader Tyler A. says he has learned so much from the program. “I learned everyone has different ideas and when put together it can work really well. I had to let other people try their idea to see if it worked, and it was cool that they let me try my ideas to see if they would work. I really liked our bot and I’m so excited for the state tournament.”
The goal of bringing robotics directly to students is to reach those who may lack the familial resources to participate in other competitive leagues. Students are challenged to design, build, and program robots that will compete against each other. OPEF hopes that by making these opportunities more accessible they will promote excitement about the STEM field while also nurturing key skills that will aid students in their future career path.
Resource 1 will match up to $5,000 in gifts, which will help the program reach its annual financial goal of $15,000. These funds keep the program free and accessible to all students while also providing more competition opportunities.
For more information about donating to the OPEF VEX Robotics program and how Resource 1 is showing support, visit https://www.opef.org/vex-resource1/.
About Resource 1
Resource 1 was founded in 1982 with the goal of delivering outstanding IT staffing and consulting services to Fortune 1000 companies across North America. Resource 1 differentiates itself through its non-transactional relationships and deep technical expertise. They go the extra mile to transform their pursuit of perfection into superior IT talent acquisition. Resource 1 is a true partner, helping IT experts and organizations achieve their objectives and representing them in the marketplace with honesty and integrity. Their success is built on a careful balance of time-tested strategies and innovative tactics that keep them ahead of evolving industry standards. For more information, visit http://r1consulting.com/ or call 630-575-5155.
About the Oak Park Education Foundation
The Oak Park Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) that brings artists, architects, scientists, and technology experts into K-8th grade classrooms at every District 97 school. Our professional partners share their passion for learning while conducting hands-on projects with more than 4,200 students last year. The Oak Park Education Foundation is a privately funded, nonprofit organization. OPEF also runs BASE Camp, an exceptional summer enrichment program delivered in a fun, collaborative environment. BASE Camp helps to fund OPEF’s free in-school programming.