Betsy Gidwitz believes in the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute’s mission to create knowledge to produce reliably excellent schooling for children growing up in urban American. She expresses this belief through her philanthropy: This past year, Dr. Gidwitz supported UEI’s University of Chicago Charter School with a gift to improve the sciences.
The science programs at all four campuses will be significantly strengthened due to Dr. Gidwitz’s support. The campuses will purchase laboratory equipment for science experimentation, organize a school-wide science fair, and have already created the space for a newly-formed Science Collaborative that consists of teachers from across the campuses working together to more tightly align curriculum from K-12. The collaborative is raising the bar for all students in terms of standards and expectations for learning, understanding, and applying scientific methods.
The science fair, a new opportunity for students thanks to Dr. Gidwitz’s support, allows students to explore new ideas, technology, and the principles of science. Through preparation and participation, students demonstrate mastery of the scientific research process and present findings to a panel of informed judges. Winners go on to compete in a Chicago Public Schools competition.
Rodney Bly, science department chair and instructor at the Carter G. Woodson Campus (CGW), is excited about the opportunities created by Dr. Gidwitz’s gift. He says, “The science collaborative provides an opportunity for our science teachers to understand the nature of science instruction across our campuses. Through the analysis of student work, such as the science fair, and science instructional practices, our collaborative efforts will lead to the development of an analytical, skill-driven framework that will improve student learning in science.”
Dr. Gidwitz also supports library science at CGW through the sponsorship of a librarian position. Jared Washington, director of CGW, says the gift "enabled us to open a fully functional and staffed library that has already become a valuable resource to classroom teachers and students alike.”
For Dr. Gidwitz, giving is an important and appreciated part of her life. She says, “It is a privilege to provide Chicago youngsters with an educational springboard for their own success in life.” Giving to improve education, particularly, is a priority for Dr. Gidwitz because she believes that “a well-educated public is essential to the well-being of our city, our country, and the world. Further, education is vital to the alleviation of poverty and the resolution of social ills.”
Dr. Gidwitz expresses confidence in giving to the school campuses because they are situated and grounded in the Urban Education Institute and the University of Chicago at large.
“The University of Chicago relationship assures that all programs will be grounded in rigorous research. Outcomes will be measured and evaluated, and findings will be published and made available to all with interest in the field,” said Dr. Gidwitz. “Further, the University of Chicago Charter School can call upon a broad range of University resources, such as the School of Social Service Administration and University libraries and technology services. The charter school offers extraordinary promise because it is comprehensive in its approach to urban education.”