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Amazon donates $1 million to fund under-resourced engineering students

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Amazon donates $1 million to fund under-resourced engineering students

The Daily Illini File Photo

The Daily Illini File Photo

The Daily Illini File Photo

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

Amazon is donating $1 million over a five-year period to the University’s Academic Redshirt in the Science and Engineering Scholars program.

The ARISE program gives a group of 25 Illinois students from under-resourced backgrounds an extra year to prepare for freshman-level courses.

University students come from many different backgrounds, but some students don’t have the same access to advanced level courses, said Bill Bell, executive director of marketing and communications for the College of Engineering.

Money from Amazon’s donation will go toward programs like ARISE’s customized first-year curriculum, an enhanced orientation program for ARISE scholars, and mentoring and support programs, Bell said.

Through a customized preparatory program in calculus and science, ARISE scholars are prepared for an engineering curriculum. They also receive mentorship and support from engineering faculty.

“They have the potential to succeed, especially when they’re given a network of courses, programs and people to help them get the prep their high schools couldn’t necessarily provide,” Bell said.

ARISE was started last year when the National Science Foundation awarded Illinois and five other institutions a five-year, $5 million grant to establish a bridge year for incoming freshmen. The Amazon donation will help continue the program past the five years of the grant.

“ARISE fits the community engagement mission of Amazon: to provide resources and ignite the passion for STEM education to the next generation,” said Gregg Zehr, president of Amazon Lab126 and University alumnus, in a statement. “The University of Illinois has a global reputation in engineering, and we’re excited to help students who need a little extra preparation to succeed at a place like Illinois.”

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