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Challenger Learning Center receives grant for Jr. High student missions

February 16, 2022
The Challenger Learning Center at Heartland Community College has received a grant to fund STEM experiences for local middle schools. 

A $5,000 grant to the Challenger Learning Center (CLC) from Blue Origin will launch local classrooms on simulated space missions.

The funding come from a portion of a grant to the national Challenger Learning Center organization from Blue Origin’s Club for the Future foundation. The grant is targeted to fund simulated space missions for students from Title I and/or rural schools across the country. 

The grant funding covers nine in-person missions for classes and the CLC general scholarship fund will round out the effort by funding an additional class. 

“It’s fortunate to have a local CLC with a great reputation that benefits all in our community,” remarked Dr. Julia Ossler, Associate Director at Heartland’s CLC. “Because we have some other great support for rural schools, in total we will be providing for 60 students from each junior high in Unit 5 and District 87 to share the availability of this targeted funding for unique hands-on STEM education to local schools this spring and summer."

With programs designed for students of all backgrounds, Challenger Learning Center has a concentrated effort to meet the needs of underserved students and learners who are underrepresented in STEM. Working with area schools and the Heartland Community College Foundation, the CLC has provided secondary school classrooms throughout Central Illinois in-person and virtual learning experiences.

The effort extends beyond McLean County. In 2020, Caterpillar Pontiac made a five-year commitment to send over 2,500 Livingston County students on fully funded CLC field trip experiences.

The human spaceflight startup Blue Origin was established by founder and executive chairman of Amazon Jeff Bezos. Initiated by Blue Origin in 2019, Club for the Future is a foundation whose mission is to inspire upcoming generations to pursue careers in STEM and to help invent the future of life in space.

Written by: Steve Fast