This week, the Aurora City Council awarded $500,000 for the third year of the Aurora STEAM Academy Youth Programs.
The program is a public-private partnership between the city of Aurora, Elmhurst-based TinkRworks and APS Aurora Training Academy.
It provides STEM services to the city's underprivileged youth.
The program began three years ago as a pilot program in Districts 2 and 7 in the eastern part of the city. In 2021, there were 600 students from all over the city, and last year there were 2029 students.
The administration of the APS Academy, which pays teachers and hosts several classes downtown, said that in 2022, students enrolled in the school are almost evenly divided between male and female students, as well as white, black and Hispanic students.
About 25% of the students were women of color. Officials have said there will be several women-only classes this year.
Through surveys of parents of students attending summer and extracurricular programs, organizers learned that one of the biggest challenges parents face is transportation to get students to classes in the APS Academy's downtown area.
To address this issue, organizers have increased the number of other locations on the east and west sides where students can attend classes from two in 2021 to nine last year.
Aurora pays for software packages provided by TinkRworks as well as other expenses.
The $500,000 for the city portion of the project will come from the Federal Savings Plans of America Act (ARPA), money the city has received in recent years.
City CFO Chris Minnick said the city has between $8 million and $9 million left in ARPA that has yet to be spent or embezzled. It should be spent by 2026.