Banner image photo credit: Photo by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.

As we mark International Women's Day, a global day to celebrate women’s achievements and rally for gender equality, CME Group Foundation highlights grantee organizations whose work is fostering greater diversity and inclusion in STEM and finance. We are also proud to continue supporting initiatives that help talented students from many different backgrounds achieve in higher education. During a difficult year where every stage of the pipeline from classroom to career has been impacted by the ongoing pandemic, it is more important than ever to champion diversity in our industry and in STEM fields.



Rocking Wall Street with WIN

This past year, CME Group Foundation partnered with Rock the Street, Wall Street, a national organization that leverages women volunteers to teach financial education and career opportunities to high school girls in under-represented communities. The Foundation enlisted CME Group’s Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) employee networking group to find employee mentors for the teenagers. The group recently wrapped up the last session of their fall program and are thrilled to report that the students improved their financial and investment literacy skills by 80%.

A kickoff event for the upcoming spring program was held in early February to introduce the new students to their WIN mentors. Students also had an opportunity to hear firsthand accounts about what it’s like to work at the company and in the financial industry.

Terry Savage, a member of the CME Group Board of Directors and Vice Chairman of the CME Group Foundation, explained how she has grown her career over the years. She noted that when she started her career as a secretary, there were no women in the finance industry available to mentor her. Her advice to the students? Never back down! “If you just don’t take no for an answer, then the possibilities are endless,” she said.

WIN member Supreet Dhillon, Software Engineering Director at CME Group, also provided an overview of her journey from graduating school in India to starting a job at the company. Sharing what it’s like being both a minority and a woman in technology, she said, “Many times I am the only woman at the table, but I don’t let that stop me from asking questions and asserting myself. Diverse perspectives not only foster re-thinking but also enhance the problem-solving experience.”

Learn more about Rock the Street, Wall Street.



Seven Lessons for Transforming the Future of Early Math Education

With 12 years of early math grantmaking under its belt, the CME Group Foundation’s successes and challenges point to lessons for education funders, policy advocates, researchers, and organizations seeking to improve early childhood education systems and outcomes, both within Illinois and in other states.

The Foundation recently partnered with Arabella Advisors, a philanthropy advisory services firm, to create a comprehensive report on its early math education initiatives. Arabella conducted in-depth interviews with seven individuals who played critical roles in the Early Math Initiative and Elementary Math Specialist pilot. Interviewees are affiliated with early education funders, academic research institutions, and the Chicago Public Schools system.

Key takeaways include:

1. Recognize that changing educational practices and systems is a long-term play. It is important for funders and advocates to recognize that the education field changes slowly, as shifts in educational practice, training, and systems are typically based on field-tested research and depend on state-level legislative action.

2. Advocates for statewide EMS credentials should identify and build partnerships with state-level allies early in their efforts. Several interviewees who had advocated for statewide EMS credentials in Illinois said these efforts would have benefited from identifying and engaging state-level allies earlier on, before they had submitted their proposals. Investing time and funding up front to research the landscape of relevant stakeholders and learn from comparison can save time.

3. Advocate for elementary math specialization as a field priority ‒ both in pre-service teacher training and in professional development for certified teachers. The initiative and pilot demonstrated that providing intensive, math-specific professional development for elementary teachers can powerfully impact their classroom practices and children’s learning.

4. Help school districts develop the resources to shoulder the additional costs of teacher specialization. In the near term, funders can step in and identify opportunities to help support the schools with the greatest needs, and should partner with school districts, and work with state agencies and universities, to develop solutions and explore grant opportunities that allow districts to train and staff math specialists.

5. Promote equitable access to ongoing professional learning for educators. In designing professional development programs for working teachers and funders, credentialing institutions should consider and identify ways to address barriers that may deter participation, such as access to transportation and childcare.

6. Increase educators’ access to existing professional development resources. Initiative-funded resources, such as the Early Math Counts website, have made free online teaching resources widely available to caregivers and educators. Educators also have an increasing need for research and professional development materials that address the math learning needs of children who are not native English speakers.

7. Build collective knowledge and disseminate learnings via convening and networks. Network- building in the spirit of “convening, not competition” was critical to the initiative’s successes and helped build partnerships and infrastructure that increase the likelihood that grantees will continue to advance this work.

Read the report



16 Chicago Public Schools Earn AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award

Sixteen Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have earned the College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science A (CSA) and/or AP Computer Science Principles. Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access in AP computer science courses.

his recognition is a testament to the success of CME Group grantee organization CS4All, which was established in 2014 to maximize the innate potential of every student through a computer science education defined by equity, empowerment, and opportunity.

“AP Computer Science has come such a long way in just a short time,” said Troy Williams, Interim Director, CPS Office of Computer Science. “The fact that more than half of the AP CSP test takers last school year were women is a testimony to how hard the educators here at CPS have worked to bring equity and diversity in computer science education. I am truly proud of our young female students and the educators who have provided them support.”

Brooks High School junior Innocentia E. said, “AP computer science taught me that things are possible inside and outside of technological systems and has given me the pure encouragement to pursue my major in chemical engineering during my college careers ‒ and break academic stereotypes regarding African American women in STEM.”

Alcott High School senior Claudia O. said, “We are surrounded by technology created by programming. Imagine being the creator of those masterpieces. Programming gives me the opportunity to code and create everyday useful information to help facilitate everyday life.”

Alcott High School junior Sierra McClain added, “I honestly love being in AP computer science and if I was given the chance to do it all over again, I would, and not change a thing about this course. I highly recommend more girls to take AP computer science and not be afraid of it getting hard or it being more towards men."

Providing female students with access to computer science courses is critical to ensuring gender parity in the industry’s high-paying jobs and to drive innovation, creativity, and representation. The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $88,240 in May 2019. However, a code.org analysis of 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics data finds women represent just 24% of the five million people in computing occupations.

That’s why new College Board research about AP CSP is so encouraging. According to the data, female students who take AP CSP in high school are more than five times as likely to major in computer science in college, compared to similar female students who did not take CSP. The study also finds AP CSP students are nearly twice as likely to enroll in AP CSA, and that for most students, AP CSP serves as a stepping-stone to other advanced AP STEM coursework.

Learn more about CS4Allt



Illinois Science and Technology Institute Kicks Off STEM Challenge


On Feb. 9, CME Group kicked off the ISTI STEM Challenge with 18 electrical engineering students from Friedrich Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center, a Chicago public high school.

The students, along with their teacher Brian Huang, have been tasked with learning about global financial markets to better understand how different users benefit from different market trends. Building on their research, they will engineer a microcomputer called an Arduino to perform a function that will alert users to a particular pattern in one market.

Students will be broken up into several teams, each of which will communicate and meet virtually with nine mentors from CME Group’s Technology Division, who will help them research, brainstorm ideas, plan their solution, and implement a design. During the course of the semester, CME Group mentors will them develop valuable skills they can deploy in their future careers.

In April, each group will present their final project to a panel of CME Group employees for evaluation. One selected student team will advance to the ISTI STEM Challenge showcase to present their project alongside teams from other schools throughout the state. This is the third year CME Group employees have partnered with ISTI and Von Steuben for the STEM Challenge.

“Every year we receive feedback from teachers, employees, and students expressing how impactful the experience is,” said Maddy Boesche, Project Manager for CME Group’s Technology Division. “We look forward to a fulfilling semester and can’t wait to see their final projects.”

Learn more about the ISTI STEM Challenge.



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CME Group Foundation Awards Over $2 Million in Grants to Support College and Career Success for Illinois Students

CME Group Foundation recently announced it has awarded over $2.2 million in grants to further support higher education initiatives across Chicago and Illinois.

Read the press release

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