Cancer Center at Illinois Student Organization outreach assistants Nina Soofi, Kevin Meier, and Brigitte Joyce at the Y on the Fly afterschool venue in Champaign, IL.

The Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL) welcomed a new STEM outreach partnership with the Stephens Family YMCA’s Y on the Fly afterschool program during the spring 2023 semester. With funding from the Grassroots Initiative to Address Needs Together (GIANT) grant awarded by the IDEA Institute with the Grainger College of Engineering, the CCIL formed this strategic alliance to provide STEM educational programming for youth in the context of an existing community service organization. 

The CCIL’s education and outreach team gave STEM lessons for K-5 students twice monthly at the Y on the Fly afterschool venue in Champaign, IL. The GIANT funding allowed the CCIL to purchase materials and equipment, hire and train undergraduate outreach assistants, and present the program’s achievements at the ASEE- American Society for Engineering Education section conference.  

“I enjoyed getting to know the students,Y staff, and volunteers over the semester.  The students looked forward to our visits, and their excitement and engagement grew with each lesson. It was apparent they were retaining the material from week to week,” said CCIL’s Educational Programs Manager and Instructor Kristin Giglietti, who established and oversaw the program and trained the outreach assistants from the Cancer Center at Illinois Student Organization (CCIL-SO).

“Kristin has done an amazing job interacting with the Y on the Fly students. Looking ahead, we are eager to continue the partnership with the YMCA in fall 2023, and we are making plans to establish an additional community program focused on middle school students,” said Marci Pool, the CCIL’s Director for Education.

The CCIL believes that by engaging with STEM outside of the formal classroom through programs like the one at Y on the Fly, the next generation of students will discover interest, passion, and confidence for STEM. Additionally, this program presents an excellent opportunity for CCIL’s undergraduate students to gain STEM outreach and communication experience. 

“I hope we can continue this partnership in the years to come because our participants truly enjoyed the CCIL volunteers and the hands-on learning experience,” said Y on the Fly Director Capricia Whittaker.

To learn more about this program, email Kristin Giglietti 

This story was written by Jonathan King, CCIL Communications.