Monsanto Fund, the charitable arm of the agricultural tech company Monsanto, renewed its support for Illinois Institute of Technology’s Global Leaders Program on June 22 with a gift of $10,000. For the second year in a row, Monsanto Fund’s gift will support basic operations for Global Leaders. Global Leaders offers Chicago-area high school students opportunities to lead and serve through the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The program seeks to inspire students to enter the STEM fields and provides support and guidance through the college application process. The program has a special focus on helping underrepresented groups in STEM.
“Monsanto’s generosity in funding our operations for the second year in a row is hugely encouraging and affirming of the work that we do,” said Manager of Programs Luke Chitwood.
Global Leaders brings together students from more than 60 high schools across the Chicago region to serve the local community with projects that require STEM skills. One alumnus of the program, Eder Aguilar, introduced fourth-grade classrooms to career opportunities in STEM with a tower-building contest employing marshmallows and toothpicks.
Aguilar is currently a first-year student at Oberlin College. Other recent graduates of Global Leaders attend Cornell University, Brown University, Vassar College, and Illinois Tech. In its seven years of operating, 100 percent of Global Leaders alumni have gone on to college.
Teens in the Global Leaders Program receive four weeks of intensive STEM educational programming each summer to help them complete their community service projects, along with small budgets. They also benefit from workshops, field trips, and career exploration opportunities during the school year, and are coached through the college application process by Illinois Tech staff and faculty.
Corbett Kull (M.B.A. ‘98), senior director at the Climate Corporation, a division of Monsanto, presented the $10,000 check to Global Leaders Program alumni and staff on the Illinois Tech campus. “It’s very important to Monsanto and Climate Corporation that we expose more kids not only to STEM but also to leadership opportunities…There are just not enough qualified people out there to fill all the [STEM-related] positions that we have,” said Kull.
Birju Shah, group product manager at Climate Corporation, has worked as a mentor for the program and sees it creating a virtuous cycle in the Chicago community. “When people see kids coming to help their community, it makes them want to reach out and do more themselves.”
Over the past six years, the Monsanto Fund has awarded more than $7.5 million to nonprofit organizations across the United States.