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STEM Creators with JJK

STEM Creators provides year-round STEM education to participants at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis. Contact for more

The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, Maryville University and the Regions Foundation, a nonprofit initiative of Regions Bank, announced a new community partnership that will provide Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) educational programming for elementary school students in East St. Louis.

Supported by a $100,000 contribution from the Regions Foundation, the JJK Center Elementary Learning Program will launch this fall. The program will build on a collaboration between the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center and Maryville University’s Center for Access and Achievement. Already, the collaboration supports high-need high school districts and nonprofits by equipping students with skills to succeed in STEM fields in college and their future careers. The new community partnership will expand the program’s reach to serve elementary-aged students as well.

The Regions Foundation is investing in the collaboration as part of its long-term commitment to advancing education and workforce readiness. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization funded primarily through contributions from Regions Bank.

“Every day, our teams are focused on building more inclusive prosperity throughout the communities we serve, and we are honored to make this investment in a program that will help level the playing field for students while laying a foundation for future success,” said Regions Financial Corp. President and CEO John Turner, who presented the $100,000 contribution to the JJK Center and Maryville University. “This is a community partnership that will benefit students not only when the program launches this fall, but also in the years to come as students build on their education and pursue successful careers.”

The Regions Foundation contribution will fund teacher training and STEM materials for the JJK Center’s Elementary Learning Program. In addition, the funding will support family engagement workshops to facilitate remote learning, as well as after-school and summer classes for JJK Center K-5th grade students. Launching in September 2021, the initiative will serve 200 students in its first year.

By introducing STEM career fields and encouraging elementary students to explore them, the collaboration offers interactive learning opportunities that align with Joyner-Kersee’s dedication to creating a safe haven and learning-rich environment for local youth at the JJK Center. It’s an initiative she’s passionate in supporting.

“This is a great opportunity for youth at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center to learn about the importance of STEM education at an early age,” said Joyner-Kersee. “Our mission is to instill youth in the Greater East St. Louis area with the dream, drive, and determination necessary to succeed in academics, athletics, and leadership. This initiative will greatly assist us in the fulfillment of guiding youth toward academic success, and I am grateful to be a part of such an empowering endeavor.”

The JJK Center Elementary Learning Program represents the latest STEM collaboration for Maryville’s Center for Access and Achievement. Additional projects include a STEM Sprouts program serving preschool students; the Maryville Science and Robotics Program serving more than 500 students each summer; and CREST-M (Children using Robotics for Engineering, Science, Technology and Math). Like the JJK Center Program, each of the initiatives has focused on elevating STEM education among young females, minority students and students from low- and moderate-income schools.

“The future of education lies in access and opportunity, and this collaboration allows us to reach more students and families than ever before,” said Dr. Mark Lombardi, President of Maryville University. “The path to lifelong learning begins in childhood, and we’re committed to providing equitable learning opportunities for our community.”

Reaching and serving students who may not otherwise receive the opportunity to experience STEM education and the lasting impacts it provides were key factors in the Regions Foundation pledging its support.

“This program is especially important because it introduces the world of STEM to children at such an early age,” said Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation. “We’re opening the door for younger children to begin exploring possibilities they may have never considered and encouraging them to dream now about what their future can be and prepare for it.”

About Regions Foundation

The Alabama-based Regions Foundation supports community investments that positively impact communities served by Regions Bank. The Foundation engages in a grantmaking program focused on priorities including economic and community development; education and workforce readiness; and financial wellness. The Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation funded primarily through contributions from Regions Bank.

About Regions Financial Corporation

Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $153 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services. Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates more than 1,300 banking offices and approximately 2,000 ATMs. Regions Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at

About Maryville University

Founded in 1872, Maryville University is a comprehensive and nationally ranked private institution with an enrollment of 11,000 students. Maryville offers more than 90 programs at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels to students from 50 states and 58 countries. Among recent graduates, 98 percent are employed in their chosen field or attending graduate school. In 2020, Maryville University was named the 2nd fastest-growing private university in the nation by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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