First-of-its-Kind Collaboration Energizes Future Scientists and Engineers in Northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana

Energizing Student Potential brings together six energy companies to
hundreds of teachers and students in STEM learning

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In an effort to encourage the scientists and engineers of tomorrow, six
diverse energy companies serving northern Illinois and northwest Indiana
have formed a new, unprecedented partnership that enhances science,
technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in the region.

Called Energizing Student Potential (ESP), the partnership provides a
suite of programs to engage and educate teachers and students alike,
with an emphasis on the science and industry of energy. The initiative
serves students in grades 5 through 8 – a critical time for laying the
foundation for careers in STEM fields, including energy. The partnership
comprises the Exelon Foundation, ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, North
Shore Gas and BP America, organizations representing employers of more
than 10,000 energy workers and serving millions of customers in the

“ESP is an investment in energy education, our students, and our local
communities. This program will give more students access to STEM
education, and will help them make connections, understand how the world
works, and develop a strong foundation that will prepare them for a
successful future,” said John R. Rosales, Commissioner at the Illinois
Commerce Commission, who is also a former director at City Colleges of
Chicago. “The six utilities’ collaboration on this project is
commendable, as is their commitment to ensuring all students in our area
can have access to educational programs that will help to nurture, grow,
and train our future engineers and innovators.”

“Young people must have scientific and technological literacy more than
ever before to succeed in today’s society and economy,” said Mary E.
Spruill, executive director of the National Energy Education Development
Project (NEED), which is administering the program. “Educators recognize
the need for STEM, but many lack access to the resources and expertise
needed to engage and support promising students.”

ESP is designed to empower students to explore opportunities in STEM
fields and help them discover their own paths to innovation through a
variety of classroom subjects. Curricula focus on the science of energy,
sources of energy, electricity generation and transmission,
transportation, efficiency and conservation, and careers in energy, and
use a proven model designed by NEED to achieve measurable results.

“The energy industry is experiencing unprecedented change, and we will
need a trained workforce of innovators to solve our region’s greatest
energy challenges. This is especially critical because we will need to
replace our current workforces as they retire,” said Steve Solomon,
president of the Exelon Foundation. “As energy leaders in northern
Illinois and northwest Indiana, we have a responsibility to nourish the
communities where we live, work and raise our families by investing in
educational programs that produce real outcomes.”

An advisory committee of experts will help shape and guide the program.
It includes representatives of the Adler Planetarium, Chicago Public
Schools, Discovery Center Museum, Illinois Clean Energy Community
Foundation, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Morton Arboretum,
Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, and other organizations.

ESP is bringing 40 schools serving diverse student populations into the
program each year, for a total of 120 participating schools in year
three. Schools range from public to private to charter schools across
the entire region and include schools in historically underserved
communities to bring more equity to access to quality STEM education.
More than 6,000 students are expected to be involved in the program in
the first year alone.

“Being selected for the first year of Energizing Student Potential will
mean so much to my students,” said Gerard Kovach, science teacher at
John T. McCutcheon Elementary School in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.
“One of our greatest challenges is humanity’s relationship with energy
and energy use. Our school believes our students should become teachers
of our community, as they will be the leaders of today and tomorrow. We
are excited to explore and learn and teach.”

“The John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School is very excited to
participate in the Energizing Student Potential program and to have the
opportunity to have a positive influence on our students’ and their
communities’ energy conservation efforts,” said Allison Kapitanoff,
teacher leader at the Aurora, Ill., school. “We are a small school, but
by virtue of being a ‘partnership’ school, we have the potential to
affect huge change while creating student leaders in the process.”

The program began today with a free, two-day hands-on STEM and energy
workshop for more than 70 educators at the Museum of Science and
Industry and continues throughout the academic year with events and
activities for teachers and students. Teachers receive free print
materials and teaching guides, standards alignment, hands-on kits and
materials for students, and program support. They also receive refresher
trainings during the school year.

Among its programs, ESP will provide free, half-day energy audits of
participating schools, where students work alongside energy experts to
make their schools more energy efficient. The partnership also will
arrange student field trips, science competitions and celebrations
throughout the academic year to further engage students’ classroom
learning with real-world experiences. In addition to funding and
facilitating ESP, the six partner organizations will be actively engaged
in creating enrichment opportunities for students and teachers,
including by having employee volunteers share their time and energy

About Energizing Student Potential

Energizing Student Potential (ESP) is an unprecedented collaboration
of six energy companies serving northern Illinois and northwest Indiana
to engage and encourage the future scientists and engineers who will
make up the energy workforce of tomorrow. Working with the
Energy Education Development
(NEED) project, ESP provides a
full suite of programs that foster passion for science, technology,
engineering and math in 5th through 8th grade students and provide
teachers the tools they need to reach this goal. ESP will serve 120
diverse schools throughout the region within three years and produce
measurable outcomes in advancing STEM. The collaboration includes the
, ComEd,
, Peoples
, North
Shore Gas
and BP


Paul Elsberg, 312-394-7417